Student programs robot to dance - Purdue Exponent: Campus

Student programs robot to dance

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Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 10:00 am

By TYLER HICKS

Summer Reporter

Purdue Exponent

An undergraduate researcher said the robot he’s been programming is not very good at “Dance Dance Revolution.”

Paul Frederickson, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, has spent his summer trying to train a Darwin-OP robot to successfully play “Dance Dance Revolution,” a game that requires players to step on arrows on a pad in response to visual cues. Frederickson said the robot “dances” at the level of a beginner to the game.

“He won’t be able to go as fast as the really good people,” Frederickson said. “It will probably be about one step per second ... and he will only do single arrows, he won’t be able to do double arrows. He’s bad at ‘DDR.’”

Darwin-OP is a small humanoid robot, standing approximately one foot tall with two arms, two legs and a head where a camera is stored. The robot moves on a specialized pad that Frederickson built. The pad has four sensors placed around the robot and a bar the robot uses to stabilize itself as it moves its feet to the sensors. The robot “dances” by balancing on one foot and moving its other foot to the sensor.

“At first I didn’t have (a bar) and so the robot would have to get on one leg and get down and that created some problems,” Frederickson said. “My justification (for the bar) was, on the DDR in the basement of the Union, on the nice sets, they actually have a bar for you to use.”

Frederickson said the research is far from finished. The goal of the project is to get the robot to “see” and play “Dance Dance Revolution” autonomously. He said eventually the robot would be able to register the colors of the arrows on a screen and respond accordingly.

“Right now, I’m working on vision and there isn’t really much to go on,” Frederickson said. “It’s hard to find what people have done online. People have done stuff like this but then they don’t post how they do it so I kind of have to figure it all out for myself.”

Frederickson isn’t the only student working on humanoid robotics this summer. He also shares a lab with graduate student Andy Park.

Park said he helped Frederickson and other researchers get acquainted with the robot systems at the beginning of the summer. Park also did research into controlling a robot with Kinect, a motion sensing device used with the Xbox 360.

“We used the Kinect sensor to get my skeleton data and it transferred my motion data to the robot so it can move the same way,” Park said.

Professors of Electrical and Computer Engineering C.S. George Lee, Cheng-Kok Koh and associate Professor Yung-Hsiang Lu are the faculty who are in charge of the project. Frederickson got involved with the project through the Research Experience for Undergraduates program which is funded by the National Science Foundation.

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