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 Imitating a distracted human, blind robot with human gait learns to walk on rough terrain

This story is from the category Artificial Intelligence
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Date posted: 25/07/2010

A robot named MABEL that can walk over rough terrain with a human-like gait has been developed by University of Michigan electrical engineering professor Jessy Grizzle and students. Grizzle was surprised that she was able to perform as well as she did. What a robot can step over usually depends on what it can see, but MABEL is blind. She has no camera. The engineers had merely programmed her legs to swing higher to step over or onto obstacles. They hadn?t programmed her specifically to navigate them.

That?s what they?ll do in future, more scientific experiments. The researchers are developing feedback control algorithms to give bipedal robots a strong sense of balance.

This early experiment was, for MABEL, the equivalent of walking confidently down a forest trail while talking to a friend?and not looking down to watch your steps.

So what?s the point of all this? Grizzle says more than 70 percent of the Earth?s land surface isn?t navigable by wheeled or tracked vehicles. Bipedal robots could be capable of traveling in these places.

?If robots are going to perform rescue operations, they?re not going to be walking on a nice linoleum floor,? Grizzle said. ?Even if they?re in a building, it?s going to be littered with things that have fallen. They have to be able to walk on an uneven surface without tripping.?

See the full Story via external site: www.ns.umich.edu

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