Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Robot balances walk like human

Robot walks, balances like a human

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—If you nudge this robot, it steps forward and catches its balance— much like a human.

The machine called RABBIT was developed by U-M and French scientists over six years. It’s the first known robot to walk and balance like a human, and late last year, researchers succeeded in making RABBIT run for six steps. It has been able to walk gracefully for the past 18 months.

Current walking machines use large feet to avoid tipping over and do not require the robot’s control system to be endowed with a real understanding of the mechanics of walking or balance, said Grizzle. If you provided these robots with a pair of stilts or asked them to tip-toe across the room, they would just fall over.

Walking Robot Legs

RABBIT was built without feet. Its legs end like stilts so that it pivots on a point when it moves forward. “If you build a robot that pivots on a point you must understand how the different parts interact dynamically, or else it will fall over,” Grizzle said. If a robot has no feet, it’s impossible to “cheat.”

RABBIT is part of France’s ROBEA project (Robotics and Artificial Entity), which involves seven laboratories and researchers in mechanics, robots and control theory. The machine is housed in France’s Laboratoire Automatique de Grenoble,

U of M News Service

CNN - Robot Walks like Human


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