Monday, November 14, 2011

MABEL, the robot world's fastest runner

A robot created in a laboratory at the University of Michigan (USA) can run like a human , an achievement that represents the ultimate in flexibility and efficiency for a machine with two legs. With a top speed of 10.94 mph, bipedal robot MABEL is the fastest lap and the world , according to its creators. MABEL was built in 2008 in collaboration with researchers at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon. Grizzle and students of electrical engineering and computing at the University of Michigan, Koushil Sreenath and Hae-Won Park have passed since then to improve the training of MABEL. They gradually improved algorithms that allow the robot to react to their environment in real time.

At first MABEL smoothly and quickly walked on flat surfaces. He went on to uneven ground . In late July he first trot. There are few robots that can run and researchers say that no machine, apart from MABEL, you can do with such similarity of the movements of human gait. His weight is distributed as a person. MABEL has a heavier torso and legs light and flexible tendons act like springs . According to Grizzle, as a human runner realMABEL is in the air 40 percent of each step . Other robots runners advance at nearly the speed of fast walking and in them the "flight phase", when both feet are not touching the ground, lasting less than 10 percent in each step. The engineers envision some extraordinary potential applications for his work exoskeletons that allow people who are now confined to wheelchairs to walk again, or give superhuman abilities to rescue personnel, and artificial limbs to behave like their biological counterparts.

Bipedal robots with a good running form would also have the advantage that they can move on a rough terrain and into buildings built for humans. Some day they could operate as soldiers and relief workers , as suggested by the engineers. "The robotics community has struggled to produce machines that can go to places where people go and why human morphology is important," said Grizzle. "If you want to send robots in search of people inside a burning house, it is likely that the robot needs the ability to climb stairs, go over children's toys on the floor, and maneuver in a where the wheels and the tracks may not be appropriate, "he adds. The wheels are a great way to move on flat surfaces but when the soil is rocky, the two legs are much more efficient.


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