Karl Muecke was at the Robo Development conference 2007 showing of DARwIn. DARwIn stands for Dynamic Anthropomorphic Robot with Intelligence. Karl was visiting from RoMeLa, the robotics and mechanisms laboratory at Virginia Tech. RoMeLa does a lot of research into robotics locomotion strategies.
The development of DARwIn started back in 2005 with version 1 and the current incarnation is at version 2b. DARwIn runs LabVIEW Real Time on a PC104 board and RoMeLa has decided to standardize on this platform for all their robots.
LabVIEW controls DARwIn’s motion over RS-485 and can read joint positions on the same serial network from the servo motors’ built-in potentiometers. While the robot is walking or moving, a rate gyro with acceleration and orientation information communicates with LabVIEW over an RS-232 serial connection so that the program modifies the walking gait to effectively balance the robot in real time.
Karl told VI Shots that RoMeLa is planning on evolving DARwIn hardware so it can be sold at the consumer level at a lower cost. I think this would be very cool.