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Sassy Robot to the RoboCup
Remember the robot from our November 2013 cover? The Marquette University HEIR Lab creation qualifies for Humanoid Robot Soccer Competition in Brazil.

The soccer ball falls at her feet. She dribbles down the field with ease and precision as adoring fans are screaming wildly in the background. She was born for this role. With an opponent closing in and the time on the clock ticking down, it’s as if everything stops for just moment. She looks up and sees the opportunity she’s been waiting for.  She shoots. She scores.

If she could show emotion I’m sure she would be elated. Instead, she stands on the field with her adorably bright cartoon like eyes, waiting for her human creator to take her off the field. This, of course, is a hypothetical situation, but a new IndieGoGo campaign is aiming to make it a reality.

MU-L8 (pronounced emulate) is used to being the star of the show. Featured on the cover of the November 2013 edition of Milwaukee Magazine, this little robot is a true testament to the brilliantly creative engineers at the Marquette University’s Humanoid Engineering and Intelligent Robotics (HEIR) Lab.

Professor and Director of HEIR, Andrew Williams, and his team of students are developing prototypes that will teach and inspire children of all backgrounds. “Our vision in the HEIR lab is to develop technology that will allow us to build low cost humanoid robots that can assist children in everyday life tasks, whether that’s being more healthy in their exercise and nutrition, or learning how to read better,” says Williams.

If you ask MU-L8 what her favorite thing to do is, she’ll say she likes playing soccer. And she better start practicing because she has been invited, along with her human creators, to play in RoboCup 2014, hosted in Brazil.

This year MU-L8 is the only robot from the United States in her division. “We will be representing Marquette University and America,” says Elise Russell, electrical and computer engineering graduate student in a promo video.

So how do we get MU-L8 to RoboCup 2014? The road to gold still has a few bumps in the way. There are three things still needed in order to go to Brazil: a second robot to compete (RoboCup is a two versus two tournament), registration fees and travel expenses.

HEIR Lab is currently accepting donations on IndieGoGo through April 30. With three quarters of their $5,000 goal left, there is plenty of time to contribute. For those willing to donate a little more, contributors can select a “thank you” perk from a variety of options, ranging from a personal thank you from the HEIR Lab team, to taking a selfie with the robot.

Getting to RoboCup 2014 is just one step closer to creating artificial intelligence that betters the world we live in. Why should humans get to have all the fun anyways?  

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POSTED 1/12/2015