Just like we find it hard to walk sometimes, be it due to old age or sheer laziness, robots find it equally hard to walk as well. While we resort to walking sticks or helping hands, robots have slightly fancier tools.
Let us take the ‘Aerial-Biped’ robot as an example. Designed by a group of researchers at the University of Tokyo, this robot uses a quadcopter to walk, and IEEE Spectrum was the first to recognize this unique walking assistant. It would be unfair to expect a robot to walk as easily as we do for bipedalism seems effortless to us but is an arduous task for robots as they lack the strength, infallible inner-ear and balance that we possess. In order to make this process easy, one would just recommend lowering down gravity but it is not that easy, now is it? Therefore, what the Aerial-Biped robot does is that it reduces the gravity for itself by making use of the quadcopter, which sits on the head of the robot – much like a hat, allowing it to stay upright despite having lanky legs.
The concept may not entirely be new as many robots in the past have resorted to such buoyancy techniques; for instance, UCLA’s Ballu has a helium-blimp that sits on its pair of legs and another robot, Madgan, has magnets attached to its feet so that it takes firm steps on the ground.
During an interview with IEEE Spectrum, Azumi Maekawa, the mastermind behind this design, said that despite being a novel concept, it is quite impractical in situations where the robot is expected to deliver packages or conduct search-and-rescue operations. He further drew a comparison between the robot’s gait with that of a flamingo’s sand said that it would fit well in the entertainment industry. While explaining the design, he said, “We aim to develop a bipedal robot that has the ability to display desired motions, including various dances, in addition to walking, by enabling movements that have been impossible due to the constraints of the mechanisms.”
So, don’t expect to see this robot at your doorstep – try looking for him in a theme park serving drinks perhaps?
h/t: The Verge