Humans are highly adaptable creatures, and we'll do anything we can to prevent an injury from completely immobilising us. So if robots are supposed to eventually take over all of our duties, they need to learn how to quickly bounce back from damage as well — which is what this research with walking robots is hoping to achieve.
Researchers at Sorbonne University in Paris have taught a brave little hexapod bot with an intentionally broken leg how to overcome its injury and walk in a relatively straight line again — in just a few seconds.
Before the injury, the researchers created a database of almost 13,000 different ways to move around that the robot has access to. Then when it's injured, the bot analyses that library of gaits to determine which ones don't involve the leg, or legs, that are broken. It then starts to test the options that might be successful, measuring its own speed and direction as it moves, until it finds one that's a suitable replacement to its standard walking motion.
By having access to thousands of alternative ways to get around, this system allows a broken robot to get back to its task at hand in very little time, with no human intervention. And that's especially important for robots designed to work in areas that are unsafe for human beings, like war zones or nuclear reactors that have suffered a meltdown. [Medium via Slashdot]