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LabVIEW’s DARwIn, evolution of programming

A bipedal humanoid robot has been created by students from the Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) at Virginia Tech, using National Instruments LabVIEW graphical system design platform.

The Dynamic Anthropomorphic Robot with Intelligence (DARwIn) was originally developed to study human locomotion for the research and development of prosthetic limbs. DARwIn achieves full range of motion and accurately imitates human movement so effectively that it was quickly modified to play soccer for entry into RoboCup, an international robotic soccer competition created to promote research in robotics, artificial intelligence and related fields.

“Our students used LabVIEW to design an expandable software platform as well as serve as DARwIn’s brain, giving it the ability to perform high-level tasks, including playing soccer,” said Dr. Dennis Hong, director of RoMeLa. “Development time was also reduced by simulating how DARwIn would behave when performing certain tasks and being able to quickly design, prototype and deploy simulated code to an embedded target.”

Using LabVIEW, one graduate student with no prior image processing experience was able to use IMAQ Vision to configure two IEEE 1394 cameras and, in just two hours, write a VI that identified and physically located the relative position of a soccer ball. This ease of use made it possible to create DARwIn’s soccer-playing behavior in just one week.

“National Instruments is proud to be collaborating with Dr. Hong and his talented students on such an impressive project,” said Ray Almgren, National Instruments vice president of product marketing and academic relations. “We see tremendous educational benefits in using the LabVIEW graphical system design platform, and projects like DARwIn are a testament to the things students are able to accomplish with embedded design.”

Virginia Tech’s winning entry for the NIWeek 2007 Virtual Instrumentation Applications Paper Contest can be accesed at

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