This Fleet-Footed New Robot Walks Exactly Like You Do

One of the biggest challenges that engineers have faced in their quest to build a humanoid robot is one of the simplest tasks for humans: walking. More specifically, they’ve had a hard time engineering a robot to take strides and roll each foot heel-to-toe, like we do. Until now, that is.

A team from Texas A&M’s Amber robotics lab just unveiled the latest iteration of their walking robot, fittingly named AMBER 2. With feet that are designed to perform like human feet, this agile little guy takes steps like a human, touches its heels down like a human, rolls to its toes like a human and lifts off again like a human. It walks like a human! Well, half a human attached to a boom, but still…

If you’ve been paying attention to recent advances in robotics, this might feel like an incremental improvement. After all, we just saw DARPA’s Atlas robot trot over a bed of rocks, and Japan even has a robot that can strut. Those are only a couple of examples, too. But those robots are inevitably awkward, crouching down to keep a low centre of gravity and plopping its feet down flatly for each step. The Amber Lab’s innovation is being able to walk just like humans do, and that bears huge implications for the field of prosthetics. We’ve already developed a single mind-controlled leg. Why not go for two? [Texas A&M via Engadget]