August 17, 2011

Bipedal Robot Shows Some Impressive Legs

A team of robotics researchers have been hard at work in their lab to create a bipedal autonomous robot which has had some impressive results so far.

With the aid of DARPA, the Ph.D students from the University of Michigan Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science named their working model MABEL (not an acronym) and have programmed it to sprint at varying speeds in the same way a human moves its limbs, The Daily Mail is reporting.

This bipedal technology, which can mimic a human's ability to run and climb over obstacles, may be used to help the disabled walk again, participate in rescue situations, or be used as the basis for future vehicles that don't require roads or wheels to drive.

MABEL runs at an average speed of only about 4.4 miles per hour and has a top sprint speed of 6.8 mph. Highlighting its technology is the amount of suspension time while in the air, the jogging robot is in the air for a third of the duration of each step, and is three to four inches off the ground.

The researchers are looking for improvements in the machine though. Currently the body of MABEL weighs 143 pounds and it is expected that the running speed could be increased with a lighter mass, CNET reports.

Researcher Koushil Sreenath explains its potential by saying, "Wheels are a great way to move across flat surfaces, but when the ground gets rocky, two legs are much more efficient."

"Imagine a future where you don't have to first clear a path and build roads before a vehicle could move around, but rather, we have a class of running machines like animals that could transport you around with no roads, but with a smooth and efficient ride."


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