FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Robots that Truly Walk Like Humans

One of the toughest challenges in robotics is building humanoid forms that can walk upright on two legs like humans. Now, researchers at Delft University in the Netherlands, Cornell University and MIT may have solved the problem.

The key is a line of technology called passive-dynamic walking, which uses gravity to drive a bipedal device down a slope. Passive-dynamic technology does not attempt to control all joints in the movement, but allows most of the joints to hang free.

The robots developed by the three universities solve a variety of other problems related to balance, stride, foot size, stopping, steering, shock absorption and even walking backward. In addition to use in humanoid robotics, the research shows promise in helping to develop better prosthetic legs and feet. However, practical applications are likely at least 20 years out.

Source: Technology Research News