Project: Human motion imitation using closed-loop control techniques for use in video games and real walking humanoid robots

We aim to bring together the world of video games and robotics by creating a unified playing environment across real humanoid robots and simulated video game characters. To this end, we plan to develop a unified control methodology for enabling stable, life looking and aesthetic motion for real walking robots and for physically simulated video game human characters. This control mechanism will bring to several markets an unprecedented level of life-like realism in video games and in real humanoid robotics._x000D__x000D_Video game human characters today are not subject to simulated gravity and physical forces except for achieving very basic effects such as collision and "ragdoll" effect when falling. To achieve human looking motion, game designers use keyframe or motion capture techniques to animate the characters. In this project, we aim to achieve real time body dynamics simulation and feedback control techniques in order to create human characters that rely on their instincts to move and react in realistic looking ways to the ever changing environment. Characters will know how to adjust to a slippery floor, how to grab a ledge, how to balance their body on a cracking and shacking terrain, among others._x000D__x000D_Simulation and control techniques have been developed in universities and research centers around the world COly for industrial robot research purposes. Today's commercially available hobby humanoid robots are actuated by servo motor boxes containing DC motors with multiple gears to reduce the speed of the shaft. The servos are designed in a way that supports the paradigm of moving the shaft position in sequence from one position to another. However, this technique causes the robots to be very unstable because the central control is not "aware" of what the external world looks like. If the floor is slippery or tilted or the way is obstructed due to a pebble or a wall, the robot will fall and not know what had happened. Recurring to similar dynamics simulation and feedback control techniques as above, we aim to replace the blind open-loop-control approach with robust feedback controllers that endow the humanoid robot the capability to overcome unpredicted obstacles. _x000D__x000D_The traditionally used speed reduction gears, besides lowering the humanoid capability to sense external contact due to their low backdriveability, they also tend to become loose creating lag, loss of precision and eventually breaking. To overcome both limitations, we shall use lightweight linear "direct drive" technology where the motor does not move so fast, but has higher force, and therefore does not need speed reduction. We therefore intend to develop a simple walking robot using these types of linear actuators and integrated structural-control design principles in order to bring to the market an alternative to today's servo-driven Asian and US walking robots, increasing the strength of the EU in this huge market._x000D__x000D_Gathering the above innovations in video game and humanoid robot design into one package, we obtain a fascinating new product where the virtual reality action can also be played on our living room floor with real small sized humanoid robots. A prototype of such a system is the final target of this project. Our project is an interdisciplinary one and therefore our consortium is composed of best-of-breed experts in the relevant fields:_x000D__x000D_Move Interactive is a videogame developer working with the Xbox360 and PC platforms. The company has developed their own 3D graphics engine technology (FLOW) for the current generation of platforms (PC, XBOX 360) and has a state of the art studio with some of the most talented team members working in videogames in Portugal. Move has developed Floribella with national TV Channel SIC for the casual/kids market and is currently working on Ugo Volt, an action/adventure title for PC and 360 slated for international release. Move Interactive is an official Microsoft XBOX 360 developer._x000D__x000D_IST - Instituto Superior Técnico, through the staff of the CSI - Center of Intelligent Systems has considerable knowledge in the area of robust control and in particular dynamic control of walking robots. They have hundreds of scientific publications in control theory and robot control as well as state-of-the-art laboratory prototypes. _x000D__x000D_noDNA is a company based in Berlin, Germany, that manufactures motion capture sensory equipment and also sells robots and parts to the education and hobby markets. The companys' core expertise is in the doCO of combining mechanical structures with sensors. One of her products is the exoskeleton "FullBodyTracker" a mechanical device which can be worn by a human to detect and capture all limb,finger and face motions in realtime. noDNA also developed the YDNA Robot, a humanoid robot specially made for research and robo soccer contests. noDNAs' other expertise is in virtual humans, here she was P in the EU-IST program "Lifeplus" to design and realtime render virtual inhabitants of Pompeji.

Acronym ActuatedCharacter (Reference Number: 4378)
Duration 01/12/2009 - 31/08/2011
Project Topic This project aims to develop and introduce the innovative concept of "bringing video games to life". Using advanced motion control techniques, the project shall develop a 3D video game engine plugin and a prototype real humanoid robot, creating a parallel between real and virtual worlds.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
self balancing leg in closed loop
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 1

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
3 Instituto Superior Técnico Partner Portugal
3 noDNA GmbH Partner Germany
3 Move Interactive, Produções Multimédia S.A. Coordinator Portugal