A Japanese robotics firm has shown that when it comes to walking, two-legged robots don’t necessarily need to follow humans.
Looking a little like an under-dressed R2-D2, the bipedal robot was unveiled by Schaft – owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet – at the recent New Economic Summit in Tokyo.
Co-founder and boss of Schaft, Yuto Nakanishi, introduced the as-yet unnamed robot as it waddled on stage, stiff-legged and self-assured, demonstrating its locomotion without bending its leg joints.
Mimicking the complex movements involved in human motion has long-been a challenge for bipedal robotics experts, owing to the countless minor adjustments we make as we walk.
But Schaft’s robot has opted for a different approach, doing away with the complex knee joint and opting for sliding mechanisms in the top of the legs, with stabilising load-bearing ankle joints.
In an eerie display of its capabilities, the bipedal droid is seen self-stabilising after stepping on a pole in a demonstration video, as well as lifting weights in the gym and even taking a lonely stroll along a shingle beach.
The robot can also be seen ascending and descending sets of stairs without assistance.
The Japanese robotics firm was bought by Alphabet in 2013, just a year after it was established.
The only footage of the robot in action emerged from an attendee at the NEST 2016 conference, as did a handful of tweets and images.
According to Tokyo-based tech writer Tim Hornyak, the bipedal prototype can carry 60 kg (132 lb) of weight, it has no name yet, can tackle uneven terrain and is ‘aimed at helping society by helping carrying heavy loads’.
Schaft has worked with Alphabet’s Boston Robotics to advance bipedal robots as part of the Darpa robotics challenge.
The Japanese firm now sits under Alphabet’s secretive X division, formerly known as Google X.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk