Our undergraduate student Kyle Morris is just on his way back from Korea, after our demonstration at the 2016 IEEE International conference on Robotics and Systems (IROS) took second prize in the fourth IEEE Humanoid Application Challenge. The award was a $1000 US robot hand from SEED Robotics, and we were also awarded $2000 US in travel funding. This is the fourth Humanoid Application Challenge (this year it moved from ICRA to IROS; both of these conferences are the premiere IEEE international conferences on robotics). Kyle and the rest of our team (John Anderson, Meng Cheng Lau, Jacky Baltes) are thrilled to have won first or second/finalist prize in this competition every year it has been run. Some of our previous research was the skating and skiing work you can read about in previous stories on the lab website.
This year the competition had a theme, Robot Magic, intended to drive work on perception and dexterity and interaction with humans, and our application was a card trick that involved interaction with a human (including handing off a card deck, speech recognition, speech synthesis, visual recognition of cards, and machine learning).
While we are exceptionally proud of all of our competition wins, the Humanoid Application Challenge is always special because it also directly lets us do even more interesting work with the equipment that is awarded. Two past years have brought us DARwIn-OP robots that we use directly for humanoid robotics research, for teaching in graduate and undergraduate classes, and in robotic soccer and HuroCup competitions. The hand we got this year will be used for upper-body work (e.g. basketball free throws) in Hurocup, as well as allowing us to do more interesting work in using humanoids to manipulate objects.
Congratulations to everyone involved and welcome back, Kyle!
You can watch a video of the entire presentation here.