Feb. 28, 2007 The HOAP3 humanoid robot has just arrived at the Laboratory for Computer Science, Robotics and Microelectronics of Montpellier (LIRMM -- CNRS -- University of Montpellier 2). This platform supplements the one that was installed at the LAAS in Toulouse last June. They were both made in Japan and represent a strong robotics research potential for France.
Research activities in the field of human robotics are expanding rapidly. The establishment of the JRL (Joint Japanese-French Robotics Laboratory) based in both Japan (Tsukuba) and France (Toulouse-LAAS and Montpellier-LIRMM) contributed strongly to the realization, reinforcement and dynamization of the robotics research community in this field. The two humanoid robots are at the core of JRL's research.
The acquisition of HOAP3 by LIRMM, 50% co-financed by the CNRS, is part of this process. Within the framework of JRL-France, the LIRMM will thus offer the national community an open experimental platform for the validation of models or control methods contributing to ambulation and the handling of objects while maintaining balance.
This 8.8 kg, 60 cm tall robot has 28 motorized articulations. It has a large number of sensors including accelerometers, rate gyros, an infra-red range finder, pressure sensors and two cameras. This unit is based around a completely open software platform (RTLinux) allowing all of the researchers interested to freely evaluate and test their new theoretical developments concerning the modeling, control, vision or learning of these.
This platform supplements the one already installed at LAAS in Toulouse, the HRP2 robot, which is more realistic because it is on a "human scale," but also more complex. HOAP3 will allow for very rapid progress because its use is simple and does not require prior validations on a simulator. Furthermore, the software platform used to control the robot will facilitate the integration and the harnessing of work already developed with Linux.
On the other hand, the fact that HOAP3 is small means that it cannot perform all of the tasks that a humanoid robot might do in a life-size environment. For these tests, the platform installed at LAAS will thus be complementary. Lastly, HOAP3 has a wireless communication link that allows it to handle teleoperation work or collaboration of mobile robots. One of LIRMM's hopes is to soon have several humanoids so that it can study robot cooperation.
You can discover HOAP3 at the National Humanoid Robotics Exhibition to be held in Montpellier on March 29 and 30, 2007 (http://www.lirmm.fr/JNRH).
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