When in doubt, look to nature. It's the creed of the biomimicry movement, and it's not lost on blue-sky thinkers over at DARPA. Research carried out by MIT and the Florida Institute of Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) is delivering to the DoD a robotic biped that will run faster than Usain Bolt--perhaps as fast as 50 miles an hour eventually. Presenting DARPA's robo-ostrich.
The rendering above shows FastRunner, the robot capable of extreme speed and endurance even over uneven terrain or negotiating obstacles or stairs. The collaboration has already produced a bird-like leg design based on the ostrich that consists of a single motor per leg, a locking knee, and springs that can store and release energy so it doesn't have to rely on the batteries for every bit of kinetic motion. The single motor per leg and springs also help cut down on weight, keeping FastRunner lithe and lean for those long sprints ahead.
The current test leg is capable of hitting 27 miles per hour (matching Bolt's best) but the MIT/IHMC team things it could reach 40 or 50 miles per hour before all is said and done. Moreover, the leg doesn't require extra energy to carry weight, so the payload capacity is basically whatever the actual material strength of the leg can handle.
The architecture is also scalable, the team says. The FastRunner leg could be adapted to four-legged 'bots or humanoids as well to grant them higher running speeds and increased agility.
If the ostrich-bot conjures thoughts of Boston Dynamics' BigDogand LittleDog, as well as the cheetah robot under development over there, it should. Both DARPA and IHMC have worked with Boston Dynamics on aspects of those projects in the past. The DoD seems to be working toward some confluence of biomimicked robotics technologies that could someday provide a suite of sophisticated legged robot designs that will help in building assistive robot platforms, exoskeletons, and the like.
To get a better idea of how exactly the robo-ostrich leg articulates, check out the videos below.
I think thats a fast ostrich. Wonder if it can be applied toward humans that may have disabilities?
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That's one stupid looking robot. Even the dog robot looks better than that.
That is a good question guitarsuperman23. My little brother had a stroke while in my mom's stomach and it caused him to not be able to use his left side and it also gave him mental disabilities. I would love to see anything come out in the world that would help him out. If these robotic legs could be applied toward people with disabilities that would help him out greatly. I know something like that would just make him so much happier. It makes perfect sense to. Something like that seems like it easily could be used to help out people with disabilities, or if not that then something similar.
Aw! It is so cute! BAM! I am dead!
Something is wrong when a weapon is cute and deadly.
Science sees no further than what it can sense.
Religion sees beyond the senses.
Sorry for my foolish remark earlier. That's the most immature way to comment on popsci. It will not happen again.
When it said 'scalable', I immediately thought of 30-foot-tall ostriches booming across the landscape.
-Spouting a fountain of nonsense since 1995-
Heh, reminds me of 'metal gear solid 4' robots at the beginning. Hope we steer clear from that path!
a bigger version like in return of the jedi, our gooses are cooked if they don't behave, cheers
I would put money on it that most of this tech eventually ends up in prosthetics. Disabled people and soldier who lost limbs in combat. I would also put money on it that there will be people who are willing to pay for human augmentation to perform at super human levels, even with perfectly good working body parts.
It doesn't look like it would be very good at turning...
Can it be a probe for Mars? Perhaps it will not get stuck in the soft dirt as often other probes.
You guys are thinking about this all wrong. Forget the military applications, and converting the tech for prosthetics. I want to ride one of those suckers! (Joust, anyone?)
HA! Thats what i neec to say.
I think this is a step in the right direction. Besides the obvious applications outside of the military already stated above, looking toward the future and combining this with the "Xbox/PS" generation, we'll be able to one day report for duty via the internet from our own living rooms!
good and bad with this, good because if we can make significant strides in being able to send impulses from the brain to legs like this we may be able to help people who cannot walk and beyond that people who cannot even move by themselves. Bad is just that silly, another step towards terminators haha
smart design idea.