Computer Science Robot Wins First Prize
Originally posted in:  What's Happening at the U of M
25 May 2012

Jennifer, the cute little hockey-playing robot built at the University of Manitoba and featured on science TV shows, may now have to be taken more seriously: she’s blowing away her robot competition.

Built by University of Manitoba students in the Autonomous Agents Laboratory, The doll-sized robot was taken to St. Paul, Minnesota, and entered in the ICRA 2012 DARwIn-OP Humanoid Application Challenge on May 12, 2012, hosted by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society. The competition involved developing new applications for humanoid robots.

There were more than 1,300 participants at the conference, and from all submissions, only nine robot design teams were selected for the final competition. Jennifer was demonstrated in front of a panel of robotics experts and the large crowd.

The Autonomous Agents Laboratory is one of the research laboratories within computer science at the University of Manitoba, directed by Drs. John Anderson and Jacky Baltes. The goal of research is the improvement of technology related to robots’ hardware and software as well as the development of applications employing the technology.

“We are very happy to say that we won first place in face of stiff competition,” says Baltes. “Our prize included a new DARwIn-OP robot, worth about $12,000, plus software totalling about $15,000.”

He adds: “Our work on Jennifer since this debut has included better control and balancing, and work on using both ice skates and inline skates.”
Jennifer the robot is named after Jennifer Botterill, the Canadian three-time Olympic gold medal hockey player.

“Winning this competition has brought us another much-appreciated piece of research equipment,” says Anderson. “We won another robot for our hockey team!” Anderson becomes head of computer science in July.
 


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Jennifer, built by the Autonomous Agents Laboratory in the Department of Computer Science