An happy team of humanoid robot developers should be made of 7 people.
2 mechanical engineers.
1 electronic guy.
1 person involved in walking algorithms.
1 software guru.
1 person that takes care of computer vision.
1 project leader.
The Isaac Team was more or less composed like this (actually, I shared the role of project leader and biped walking programmer at the same time and there was 1 more electronic guy).
The people which joined me in that bold adventure are still friends; as happens with many friends of mine, we are not in touch any more, but we still exchange some e-mails sometimes remembering how intense and exciting was that period of our lives.
Our first brainstorming was in a PUB. I had prepared some documentation to start introducing to them what I had learned the year before about robots, and my plan was to make everything relaxed and funny.
Actually, it was quiet funny to discuss about legs' kinematic, gyro sensors and embedded computer in front of a pint and a burger.
We started working on the project in October 2002, and our robot (named "Isaac" of course) was taking shape month after month. Unfortunately, it was actually harder than I expected, especially from the mechanical point of view: the design took more then I expected and the construction took MUCH more than I expected.
I was trying my walking algorithms in simulation, but I was already sure that it would not be enough without a large period od testing on the real robot.
Winter flew away in the blink of an eye and summer was getting closer and closer: Robocup was getting closer!
I did want to succeed. I so eagerly wanted it!
All my life, I thought that I could demonstrate what I can do if I would have the possibility, and that possibility was given to me. If I would fail with the Isaac Project, I would felt that I would have failed.
Once I shared my opinion about leadership with a friend of mine that wants to become a movie director. We detected many similarities between his job and mine.
He said: "the real leader/boss is the one that share the merit of success among all the team but takes just on himself the responsibility in case of failure".
I can't remember if it was May already, when it happened. We was doing some experiments in the lab with the newly constructed Isaac: the body was built already and we were mounting the computer, the electronic boards and doing the cabling.
I was checking with an oscilloscope one of the serial lines, when the "cocodrile clip" were ground voltage was, accidentally touched the main computer of Isaac.
Immediately we heard the sound of a short circuit and white smoke come from the CPU.
The switch was on the other side of the robot respect to my position.
I took the cables that connected the robot to the power supply and I snatched them with my own hands...
But the computer was burnt and we did not have any replacement to go on working.