Linux-powered robots are flocking to Atlanta this week to compete in the Robocup scientific competition. The eleventh annual event has attracted at least two Linux-based designs aiming to replace Sonys AIBO as the de facto hardware platform for standard Robocup league play.
Robocup organizers say that in more than a decade, robotic soccer has evolved considerably. Players reportedly now move quickly, have little difficulty finding and shooting the ball, and can even show signs of teamwork.
Quite a few scientific teams competing in Robocup have traditionally built their robots on top of Sonys AIBO (artificial intelligence bot) platform, a canid design with an open API (application programming interface).
However, Sony announced in January of 2006 that it would discontinue AIBO, as well as QRIO, its humanoid design. As a result, at least two companies at this years Robocup are billing their entries as AIBO replacements.
One of the designs -- Aldebarans Nao -- has been under development for more than two years. It has a humanoid hardware design, and runs a Linux-based operating system, along with software from the open source Universal Real-time Behaviour Interface (URBI) project.
Aldebaran will also field a smaller, second-generation Nao design at the competition. The "new Nao" is smaller, and features stereo-vision eyes, along with pate-mounted sensors. It also has a red rather than blue hull. Aldebaran promises to reveal more details about the design after the competition.