Roboticists at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) are teaching Boston Dynamics' humanoid robot Atlas a more natural walking gait, which could make robots more efficient and versatile and enable them to handle more rugged terrain.
IMHC developed a new whole-body control framework, in which the controller was able to give the robot straight legs without explicitly requiring the legs to exert a force on the ground.
In real-world testing, Atlas was able to walk over a variety of terrain and even react to mildly aggressive shoves with its legs straight.
IMHC’s Robert Griffin said, "The long-term vision is to make robots that are capable of equal locomotion feats as humans, so they can function as true human avatars. ...We're trying now to design approaches that are capable of both precise footstep placement, such as when walking over a rock field with few, sparse footholds, and are robust to when this precision fails, such as really compliant terrain with lots of subtle height variations, using a single algorithm."
From IEEE Spectrum
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