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The Walk-Man robot.

The developers of the Walk-Man robot say it can operate tools and interact with its environment the same way humans do.

Credit: Walk-Man

Researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology and the University of Pisa have developed Walk-Man, a humanoid robot the researchers say can operate human tools and interact with its environment in the same way a person would.

They say Walk-Man will be a more effective design for search-and-rescue situations that are too dangerous for humans. Walk-Man can use its hands, arms, legs, and feet for stability and balance by reaching out to support itself while overcoming obstacles.

The researchers want to make the robot demonstrate human-type locomotion, balance, and manipulation capabilities, according to lead researcher Nikos Tsagarakis.

Walk-Man is six feet tall, weighs about 260 pounds, and its head is equipped with a stereo vision system and a rotating laser scanner to help it interpret its environment. The researchers are developing algorithms to give the robot more rapid manipulation skills, in addition to reflexive behaviors that will help it navigate uneven terrain.

The goal is to equip the robot with enough perception and cognitive ability so it can operate autonomously, but with the option for a human operator to remotely take control when more advanced problem solving is needed.

"The robot will transfer data, like perception data, back to the operator, and the operator will take the actions and decide what the next movement for the robot is," Tsagarakis says.

From Daily Mail (United Kingdom)
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