Design Engineering

Canadian hockey-playing robot learns to ski

Mike McLeod   

Automation General Robotics slideshow University of Manitoba

University of Manitoba robot, Jennifer, headed to 2015 DARwIn-OP challenge.

15-Feb-Manitoba-robot-Jennifer-skiing-625A hockey-playing robot built at the University of Manitoba is learning to hit the slopes as part of the university’s application for the 2015 DARwIn-OP Humanoid Application Challenge in Seattle this May.

Built by students in the Autonomous Agents Laboratory, the doll-sized robot won an international competition in 2012 for its ability to skate and play hockey. Named after Canadian three-time Olympic gold medal hockey player, Jennifer Botterill, the robot has now been taught to ski both cross-country and downhill.

“The cross-country skiing gait is based on the linear inverted pendulum model and is inspired by walking and ice skating gaits developed for the DARwIn-OP robot,” says John Anderson, co-director of the U of M lab.

“We have only begun studying alpine skiing, but have demonstrated rudimentary braking and arcing using simple control of the skis’ edges,” adds Jacky Baltes, the lab’s other co-director. “Improving the control of the alpine skiing is our primary focus, with improving the cross-country gait and allowing the robot to dynamically switch from cross-country to alpine skiing when it detects a change in inclination corresponding to a hill.”


The Autonomous Agents Laboratory is one of the research laboratories within the Faculty of Science, in the department of computer science at the University of Manitoba. The lab’s goal is the improvement of technology related to robots’ hardware and software as well as the development of applications employing the technology.


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