Two-Legged Robot Is a Master at Mimicking Human Balance

Achieving proper balance is a key attribute for creating rescue robots that can effectively navigate themselves through obstacles.

This adorable bipedal robot has a very specific purpose. Engineers at MIT and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed him to control balance.

Although it might not seem like a big achievement, so far getting robots to exert force or push against something without falling has been near impossible. This is important because achieving this milestone is key to creating rescue robots that can effectively navigate themselves through obstacles.

This new balance robot is controlled remotely by a human operator through a vest. The vest allows the human operator to both direct and feel the robot’s movements.

If the robot is falling, the human feels a corresponding pull on the vest. As such, the human can make adjustments to keep the robot in balance as much as possible.

“It’s like running with a heavy backpack — you can feel how the dynamics of the backpack move around you, and you can compensate properly,” said Joao Ramos, who developed the approach as an MIT postdoc. “Now if you want to open a heavy door, the human can command the robot to throw its body at the door and push it open, without losing balance.”

 

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