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Advances Made in Walking, Running Robots

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biped robot

Biped robot by Oregon State University.

Credit: Oregon State University

Oregon State University (OSU) researchers say they have made a fundamental advance in robotics that could lead to robots that use little energy to walk and run effectively. "What we've done is taken a step back to analyze the fundamental dynamics of the mechanical system, what behavior is really possible for a given robotic system," says OSU professor Jonathan Hurst.

Current walking and running robots tend to be extremely rigid while moving, but that approach uses a lot of energy, which greatly reduces their value and possible real-world applications. To improve upon robot locomotion, the OSU researchers studied the gait of ostriches, which respond well to unexpected disturbances while running. The researchers plan to build the robot equivalent of the ostrich by combining spring-mass models with force-control actuators.

"There are machines that can walk with no active controls at all, using barely any energy, but they fall if they run into the smallest bump," Hurst says. "We need to use as much of that passive ability as possible and only use motors or active controls if it's really necessary, so we can save energy in the process."

Hurst and co-authors Kevin Kemper and Devin Koepl describe their work in "Optimal Passive Dynamics for Torque/Force Control."

From Oregon State University News
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