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Video: Robots Climb Stairs, Walk Like a Human

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Droid
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Re: Cool video
Droid   8/6/2012 9:21:41 AM
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Looks to me like someone in robotics finally figured out that the simple act of a human walking involve more than just the legs.  - - - Torso twisting, arms swinging and occasionally a hand reaching out to a rail or other nearby objects for stability - - -  What looks so simple is impressively complex.

Jennifer Campbell
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Re: Cool video
Jennifer Campbell   8/6/2012 10:50:25 AM
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This is indeed cool, but after watching both videos, I am beginning to understand the term Uncanny Valley. These robots are a bit creepy.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Cool video
Ann R. Thryft   8/6/2012 12:38:07 PM
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TJ, thanks for that link. Here's another walking robot, called Hume: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNTU5O5urmA

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Cool video
Ann R. Thryft   8/6/2012 12:39:29 PM
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Jenn, I completely agree on the creepiness factor. I didn't get the meaning of "Uncanny Valley" until the first time I saw Petman climbing stairs. It gave me chills, and still does.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Cool video
Rob Spiegel   8/6/2012 12:41:38 PM
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That's a great video, TJ. Says a lot about the difficulty of walking. However, we have the advantage of sight (most of us do) when we walk, so we can make adjustments for uneven surfaces because we can see them. The process of walking with the addition of sight is that much more complex.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Cool video
Ann R. Thryft   8/6/2012 5:31:24 PM
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When I watch the U of Michigan video, I see what looks like a rigid, fragile leg easily getting broken. Considering how much research has gone into reproducing the human, and other critters', gaits I'm surprised this team's research is still at such a basic level.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Cool video
Rob Spiegel   8/6/2012 5:50:10 PM
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The MIT robotic legs seem much more sophisticated. But when it comes to tripping, the challenge may be as great for the MIT legs as it is for the UofM legs. Ultimately, some sort of vision needs to accompany the leg movement. I think we're finding out just how sophisticated our natural world is. I was astounded watching my kids when they were little. They didn't have to be taught how to walk, just encouraged. Their legs knew exactly what to do.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Cool video
Ann R. Thryft   8/7/2012 12:39:23 PM
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Good point--the MIT legs aren't shown dealing with obstacles like the UofM legs. Biology is way, way ahead of robotics due to millions of years of practice.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Cool video
Rob Spiegel   8/7/2012 1:26:28 PM
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I've seen some crawling robots that are programmed to learn how to overcome obstacles. The robot tries a workaround, and if it's successful, it remembers the solution.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Cool video
Ann R. Thryft   8/7/2012 2:20:07 PM
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Rob, that's a really good point. We featured crawling robots in the Bugs and Worms robot slideshow: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=244549 and some of them, as well as other, snakelike robots, do workarounds and learn. I think the problem with the legs versions is that they're more likely to tip over because of a much higher center of gravity.

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