Programmers from the University of Manitoba have developed a very Canadian robot: one that can play hockey.
"Jennifer" is less than a year old and only 58 centimetres tall, but she already knows how to skate on ice, move a puck around with her miniature hockey stick, and shoot forehand and backhand.
"To our knowledge, no one else has made a humanoid robot play hockey before, especially ice hockey," Chris Iverach-Brereton, who programmed Jennifer, told CBC News on Wednesday.
Jennifer the robot is named after Jennifer Botterill, a Canadian three-time Olympic gold medal hockey player.
Iverach-Brereton, a computer science graduate student at the University of Manitoba, has been programming the $12,000 humanoid - a robot that resembles and mimics a human - to see how it can handle rough terrain.
"Still very much unsolved is uneven surfaces like the snow outside, or gravel road, or forest paths or something like that," said Jacky Baltes, who is Iverach-Brereton's supervisor at the university's Autonomous Agents Laboratory.
Baltes said using a sports theme pushes engineers and programmers to create robots that can do more than just move forward and backward.
"For soccer, for example, I have a dozen motions like turn left, turn right, forward, backwards, kick left, kick right," said Baltes, a former Olympic speed skater who represented Germany in 1984 and 1988.
Jennifer is the University of Manitoba's entry into the 2012 DARWIN-OP Humanoid Appliance Challenge, which takes place in the United States in May.
Chris is a former Computer Science Undergraduate Co-op student.