PER bipedal robot
Planar Elliptical Runner. © Institute for Human and Machine Cognition.
In Florida, the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition unveiled its Planar Elliptical Runner (PER). This light, bipedal robot is unique in that it can keep its balance purely mechanically, without the assistance of a computer. The cat-sized prototype can run at 16 km/h, but its developers believe that a human-sized version could reach speeds of 30 to 50 km/h. The video shows the prototype running on a treadmill between two glass walls to keep it from falling sideways, which, to us, seems like cheating; but the development team swears that their latest simulations guarantee that future versions will be able to dispense with them. “Robots with legs will be particularly useful in places where you want a human presence, but it's too dangerous, expensive, or remote to send a real human,” said Jerry Pratt, head researcher. “Examples include nuclear power plant decommissioning and planetary exploration. These are very small, niche, markets, though.”
⇨ MIT Technology Review, “An ostrich-like robot pushes the limits of legged locomotion.”