Flexible-jointed robot is no pushover – tech – 06 December 2007 – New Scientist Tech


This robot is the first full-size humanoid able to rebalance after accidental or intentional shoves or kicks landed anywhere on its body, thanks to new software (Image: Computational Neuroscience Laboratories, ACT/IEEE)If robots are going to work alongside humans, then they will need to stand up to accidental bumps and shoves, not to mention the occasional deliberate kick.

That is why researchers in Japan have developed software that allows a life-size humanoid robot to stay on its feet no matter where on its body it is pushed. Theirs is the first full-size humanoid to show such steadiness – others of similar size inevitably topple over when nudged in the right spot.

This video shows a series of experiments (.mov format) where the robot is subjected to repeated pushes. Another shows the same strategy being tested by a virtual robot receiving harder pushes (.mp4 format) (Videos courtesy ATR Computational Neuroscience Lab and IEEE).

Rebalancing should allow humans to interact more naturally with robots, letting them act as a physical guide, for example. If a controller tries to show other full-size humanoids how to perform a task by moving its limbs, there is a strong chance the thing will fall over.

Flexible joints

The robot, made by US firm Sarcos and then developed by researchers at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Japan, suffers no such unsteadiness. As the video above shows, it can easily rebalance when its arms are pulled into different positions.

Flexible-jointed robot is no pushover – tech – 06 December 2007 – New Scientist Tech


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