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How Someday Robots May Run to the Rescue--Literally


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University of Michigan robotics engineer Jessy Grizzle with MABEL (Michigan Anthropomorphic Biped with Electronic Legs).

A group of robotics engineers and students at the University of Michigan is working to develop algorithms for self-contained, step-by-step operations to be performed by walking robots.

Credit: University of Michigan

A research team in Ann Arbor, MI, is working to revolutionize walking robot control algorithms.

Jessy Grizzle, a robotics engineer at the University of Michigan, wants bipedal robots to be able to step over and around obstacles, and on uneven walking surfaces, without tipping over, to make transitions from different walking tasks with speed and to walk much faster. Grizzle says robots need a keen sense of balance in order to walk rapidly over rough terrain, without having to rely too heavily on precise measurements of the ground profile.

Working with the U.S. National Science Foundation, Grizzle's goal is to radically update the feedback control algorithms that enable robots to stand, walk, and step over obstacles. He also plans to develop mathematical designs for robot balance that can quickly be transferred from one walking robot to another.

Last summer, a Georgia Institute of Technology researcher used Grizzle's method and reported it helped enable a humanoid robot to walk 10 times more efficiently than previous walking robots.

The technology could be used by robots conducting search-and-rescue missions in dangerous environments.

From National Science Foundation
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