Robots Hit a Natural Stride

Forget flat-footed robots. Georgia Tech's research team is identifying ways to make a robot’s gait more human-like.

Who says you can’t walk in another's shoes? Researchers at Georgia Tech’s AMBER-Lab have been working on the DURUS robot, aiming to refine its movements to mimic human behavior, including heel strikes and push-offs.

DURUS has been able to walk upright like a human for some time, but apparently, its gait was flat footed. After some algorithm tweaks and experimentation, the robot is much closer to replicating “human locomotion” in its ability to take much longer, faster steps than its flat-footed robot counterparts, said Georgia Tech Engineering Professor Aaron Ames, in an interview with Engadget. This might not seem like much, but it gets the lab closer to its goal of getting DURUS to walk outside and ultimately, help humans, specifically by improving robotic devices like prostheses and exoskeletons.

The research team is using springs between the robot’s ankles and feet to mimic the elastic tendons in humans. According to the article, this design choice makes the robot system very efficient with a 1.4 cost of transport (a common measure of robotic locomotion), which compares to a 3.0 cost of transport for most other humanoid robots.

 

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