Robocup is a competition between soccer-playing robotic dogs. Many people have a hard time wrapping their head around this. However, Henry assures people that these things do indeed exist and are really quite impressive.
Through a grant with the National Science Foundation, as well as working under the purview of the Bowdoin College CS Department and Professor Eric Chown, Henry spent the Summer of 2005 developing Bowdoin's Robocup team, Northern Bites.
Robocup uses Sony AIBO entertainment robots to autonomously play a modified version of soccer. There are no remote controls and all of the processing--an actual computer--fits inside their frame. The long-term goal is to develop a team of humanoid robots capable of beating the World Cup Championship team by the year 2050.
Robocup has four tenets: Seeing, Moving, Knowing where you are, and then Talking about things that happen. Good teams do all of these really well. Northern Bites' second year holds the promise of bringing all these elements together while building off the Herculean efforts of Greydon Foil '05.
Henry's task for the summer was retool the movements of the robots to control walking, moving in various directions, and spinning. The team modified a system developed at UPenn for their robocup team (released under the GPL license)--effectively bridging our gap between Bowdoin and the elephantine research universities that dominate Robocup.
Henry has currently taken over the development of the team and is conducting research as an Advanced Independent Study, CS401, in communication, localization, and finer motion control for the team. Robocup is essentially a large software project and Henry has enlisted fellow CS students for the team. Northern Bites hopes to attend both the U.S. Open this spring and the international Robocup competition in Germany this summer.