Japanese researcher Ryuma Niiyama’s robot is quite literally making strides in the field of robotics. His running robot, named Athlete, can only make three to five steps before falling down, but the bipedal robot’s gait is remarkably un-robotic, stemming from a musculoskeletal design that mimics human biology. With some further refinement, Niiyama may just create a robot sprinter that moves with agility and explosive speed of a human runner.
An inertial measurement unit mounted on the torso helps Athlete keep its “body” oriented properly, while touch sensors on each foot give the ‘bot a sensory feeling for where its feet are in a stride. Unlike traditional humanoids that run by changing the position of their joints, Athlete runs more like a human or animal, using its “muscles” and “tendons” to bounce off the ground and propel itself forward. Niiyama and colleagues are currently refining Athlete in the lab with hopes of moving their tests to an actual running track soon. So as you'll see in the video below Athlete is no Aimee Mullins, but it’s taking steps in the right direction.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.