IHMC Robotics said their robot "is about 50% successful on this type of terrain"
At first glance, a humanoid robot running between different platforms over different cinder blocks seems like a simple achievement.
After all, how often have you crossed a shallow stream by jumping from one stone to another or taking a narrow path while walking without falling over?
It seems pretty simple, right?
But the ability to navigate such obstacles through the human body, with its complex joints and natural balance creation system, is much more difficult to replicate in a machine, especially a machine that works autonomously.
To demonstrate this difficulty, researchers at the Institute for Human & Machine Cognition in Pensacola, Florida released a video this month showing their efforts to train a large-scale 165-pound humanoid robot to walk on a narrow terrain with using autonomous planning. In the three-minute video, the robot – a Boston Dynamics-built Atlas model using control, perception and planning algorithms created by IHMC Robotics – gently moves through a series of narrow cinder blocks and a balance beam that reveal a degree of body control. that many people would struggle to maintain.
In a statement accompanying the video, IHMC Robotics said their robot is about 50% successful in this type of terrain.
"We plan to increase the conversion rate by adding balance using momentum and by taking better account of joint areas of movement," the statement says.
"Narrow terrain is difficult due to the need to take a number of & # 39; crossover & # 39; steps, which is difficult due to the limited range of movement in the hip joint, and also due to a small polygon of support when a foot is right in front of you from the other, "the statement adds.
IHMC Robotic says their robot detects the ground below using LIDAR, a system that uses a pulsed laser sensor to measure the distance between objects and is a crucial part of the navigation systems of many autonomous vehicles. The robot also uses a "path planning algorithm" to trace its route between the start of its journey and its purpose.
Jerry Pratt, senior scientists at IHMC Robotics, said researchers are focused on making humanoid robots that can walk in a biped way on a dual terrain. Despite improvements, robots remain unable to reach the same places as humans, he said.
"The advantage of being biped and humanoid is that your mobility has the potential to be really good," said Pratt. "If you think of everything that a person can go, it is really incredible: we can climb mountains or go into caves, walk through snow or climb stairs." There aren't many places we can't go. "
One of the reasons for that mobility is that the human foot is only about three to four inches wide, Pratt said, while a wheeled robot, such as a Roomba, for example, is about 13 inches wide. Our relatively small, narrow feet allow us to move easily over tight obstacles, or to cross barriers, all while supporting a higher center of mass that takes us far from the ground, where we can manipulate the world above ( a branch with a piece of fruit attached, for example).
The versatility that the bipedal human-like form offers is why researchers want to recreate it in a robotic form. At the moment, Pratt said no humanoid or legged robots are being sold for applications other than entertainment, advertising, and education, but that can change. Pratt said he believes that a bipedal humanoid robot would be immediately usable for bomb crews, firefighting units, or rescue missions, such as a team combing through a collapsed building or an avalanche. A place that is difficult for a wheeled robot to reach – such as in a vehicle or a building captured in a booby – offers a possibility for a bipedal bone, he said.
Perhaps the most intriguing setting for the use of bipedal human-like robots is extraterrestrial. When humans colonize other planets, Pratt said, a scenario involves sending remotely controlled robots to develop a habitat suitable for human beings. Being able to control robots that look and move like we do, says Pratt, would give scientists a big advantage.
"If you had to design things on the floor for a wheeled robot, it would be much more expensive," he added. "We could reduce the required introduction mass and have a world that would have been designed for our bodies before we even got there."
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is being published from a syndicated feed.)
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