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Bipedal robot taught dynamic walking on stones

Hybrid Robotics / YouTube

American engineers have developed an algorithm for two-legged robots, allowing them to walk relatively quickly over obstacles that have different heights and are located at different distances from each other. It is assumed that in the future this will allow the creation of robots capable of moving independently through difficult terrain with stones or through the rubble, says the IEEE Spectrum.

Many developers of robots for movement on complex terrain use in them not wheels or track drives, but legs. For example, the widely known robots of Boston Dynamics, including the four-legged Spot and  SpotMini , as well as the two-legged Atlas, who can not only walk, run , but even do somersaults . Despite progress in this area, it is still difficult for developers of two-legged robots to solve the problem of moving over rough terrain with many randomly located obstacles.

Some two-legged robots can walk in piles of building blocks, but they use quasistatic movements, rather than dynamic ones, used by humans. With this movement, the projection of the center of mass of the robot is always inside the patch of the foot’s contact with the surface. Because of this, such robots can move very slowly and are not suitable for practical use.

Engineers from the University of California at Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon University have taught a two-legged robot to solve a similar problem, but using dynamic movements. They used the ATRIAS research robot developed at the University of Oregon. It has two mechanical legs, driven by motors, and the body of the robot is connected to a turning mechanism, around which walking takes place.

During the tests, the developers laid out bricks on the way of the robot, with the step size varying from 30 to 65 centimeters, and the height of the obstacles from 12 to 38 centimeters. The current prototype does not use data from the camera, instead, after each step, the algorithm of the robot receives data on the location of the next obstacle.

The authors also equipped the prototype of the robot with a depth camera and taught it to recognize obstacles, but are still working to achieve the same level of robot dexterity using computer vision.
Recently, Chinese engineers created a two-legged robot and solved the problem of overcoming obstacles in a more unusual way. They have incorporated fan movers into his feet, which compensate for the weight of the foot and allow one to step over wide obstacles up to 80 percent in length from the foot.

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