Research robot DARwin-OP has a computer twin

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Did you hear about the small robot called DARwIn-OP? He can kick a ball, follow it, fall, get up, and say goodbye. He’s almost as cute as Kirobo! DARwin-OP was created by Virginia Tech, the University of Pennsylvania, Purdue University and Robotis Co. to serve as a tool for scientific research. High schools, universities, or independent researchers can use DARwIn-OP to learn or teach about robotics. Now, a graduate student from Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL), David Mansolino, has created his twin… inside a computer! Mansolino created a software program for a virtual DARwIn-OP that can interact with its physical body. If the real robot is walking in real life and falls, the computer model will tumble over too! Or, if the robot throws a ball, the virtual version will copy his motion. The computer twin not only mimics DARwIn-OP, it tells the robot how to move. For example, researchers who have the robot can program the virtual model to go through certain simulations, which the real robot will then follow. The computer program will save time by running several simulations on the virtual version of DARwIn-OP.