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## Two Legged Robot Sets Speed Record149

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers in Germany and Scotland have made the fastest two-legged robot yet (for its size) called RunBot. It is controlled by a simple program that mimics the way neurons control reflexes in humans and other animals. From the article: 'We wanted to show that a very simple system with a simple neuronal controller could walk in a natural manner - and fast,' says Florentin Wörgötter, from the University of Göttingen in Germany. The story also features couple of videos of RunBot in action."
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## Two Legged Robot Sets Speed Record

• #### How is it fast compared to a human? (Score:3, Interesting)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:11PM (#15071736)
How many leg-length per second can the "average" human achieve?
• #### Re:How is it fast compared to a human? (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:26PM (#15071852) Homepage
How many leg-length per second can the "average" human achieve?

A lot less than this thing once its perfected and turned into a meat-powered robot [cbc.ca].

What the hell are thoses scientists up to? Why don't we just go ahead and program them to bat us around a bit before they eat us?

Sheeesh.
• #### sci-fi (Score:2)

If you build it, it will eat you. Anyone who who's even heard of "Science Fiction" knows that.

• #### Re:How is it fast compared to a human? (Score:2, Interesting)

Human can walk at an average of 4km per hour, that's about 1.11 meter per second.

A leg is about 1 meter long, so maybe the average human can do about 1-2 leg-length per second?
• #### Re:How is it fast compared to a human? (Score:3, Funny)

Wrong.

One leg per second is equal to a football field multiplied by a VW Beetle, divided by a fortnight per Library of Congress.

Sheesh. What do they teach in schools these days?
• #### Re:How is it fast compared to a human? (Score:2)

i don't really care how fast this robot runs, it's more important if it can run linux

and now imagine a beowulf cluster of running robots, uyeeee ...
• #### Re:How is it fast compared to a human? (Score:2, Informative)

Taking my 34" inseam, 3.5 leg lengths/s would be 3.02 m/s or a 9-minute mile. Easy long run pace.

• #### Leg lengths per second? (Score:4, Funny)

<shadow.wrought@g ... om minus painter> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:12PM (#15071745) Homepage Journal
I've heard of feet per second, but legs?
• #### Re:Leg lengths per second? (Score:2)

I've heard of feet per second, but legs?

replace the word "legs" with "about 27cm" (from the looks of the thing).

Also, from the video (which is kind of silly), it looks like it's attached to a pole, which may mean it can't stand or walk on its own (certainly not without power or instruction, but maybe also not without physical guidance). I donno, neat toy at any rate.

PS, I mirrored the video here [tenthousandpercent.com]. Yeah I'm taking it down in 24 hours.
• #### Re:Leg lengths per second? (Score:2)

> I've heard of feet per second, but legs?

Imagine a beowulf cluster of [uky.edu]...

• #### Re:Leg lengths per second? (Score:2)

I for one welcome our new robotic millipede overlords.

SB
• #### Re:Leg lengths per second? (Score:2)

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks leg-lengths per second is a misleading measure. Sure, the shorter robot has a better leg-lengths per second, but it's legs are shorter, so it's actually going slower in regular units/second.

And before someone says "but it has shorter legs, so you have to compensate", I will say this: Why not compensate for the fact that a longer leg means more torque is necessary to move it? All it takes is looking at humans: people with shorter legs tend to move their legs much f
• #### Re:Leg lengths per second? (Score:2)

Don't they want to say step-length?
• #### Runnin' (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:14PM (#15071758) Homepage
I'll feel safe as long as I can still outrun our robot overlords.
• #### Re:Runnin' (Score:2)

And if you can't outrun them you can just kick them and they'll fall over [bdi.com]. Oh wait...
• #### Re:Runnin' (Score:1)

No, just outrun the other people you are with! :)
• #### Re:Runnin' (Score:2)

Nah, you don't have to be faster than the robots, you just have to be faster the other people nearby.
• #### Re:Runnin' (Score:2)

Yeah... but... after they finish off eating your friends, who do you think they'll come after next for dessert?

Let's face it, we're all screwed. We might as well start basting ourselves with the finest spices.
• #### Re:Runnin' (Score:1)

I hate to say this, but dressing up as The Flash [geocities.com] will not make you faster.
• #### Re:Runnin' (Score:2)

As long as we can still destroy them with a homemade pipe bomb, I'll feel safe. ;-)

SB
• #### videos (Score:5, Informative)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:15PM (#15071770) Homepage
Two mpeg videos show RunBot (4.9M) walking at a steady speed [ijrr.org] and (15M) gradually learning to walk more rapidly [ijrr.org].

Get'em while they're hot, ;)
• #### Re:videos (Score:1, Informative)

If you're going to karma whore with video links, at least fucking coralize them.
• #### Re:videos (Score:1)

I was half expecting something cool like a mechanized ED-209 [robocoparchive.com] (a la robocop) but instead it looks like something out a 30's stop-motion animation or a charlie chaplin skit.
• #### Re:videos (Score:1)

Ah.. The impressive running speed of a slashdotted toy..
• #### Gromit! (Score:4, Funny)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @09:35PM (#15072557)
It's the Wrong Trousers!
• #### Re:videos (Score:1)

Bipedal robot with neurologically-based control. We've mastered that.

A simple camera design mounted to the boom so the @##@\$@# picture doesn't keep jumping... now THAT is difficult.
• #### Re:videos (Score:4, Insightful)

on Thursday April 06, 2006 @03:54AM (#15074162) Journal
While I ackowledge the achievement of a robot that 'learns' to walk faster, I am disapointed that it has no balance. In the video it only hangs to a rigid tube, it can't fall on the side, hence the cheap leg structure.
• #### It's a start, but.... (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:15PM (#15071774) Homepage
...I won't be impressed until a two-robot team wins a three-legged race.
• #### Re:It's a start, but.... (Score:5, Interesting)

<[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:49PM (#15072020) Homepage
i think a human-robot team would be more impressive, because you can probablly program a robot to synchronize with another identical robot easier than you can program it to synchronize with a human being.
• #### Re:It's a start, but.... (Score:2)

... a human-robot team ...

You mean an exoskeleton ?

• #### First video (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:16PM (#15071782)
I love how it busts right at the end of video 1. They should have a sensor on its head to sensor when the head touches the ground.. . That should trigger a Homer-esque "D'oh!"
• #### Re:First video (Score:2)

Is it wrong to laugh when a robot trips and falls? I found that funny enough to watch the video again.
• #### How fast (Score:2, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward
Slashdot posts a story saying somebody made a robot that runs really fast, why the heck doesn't it say how fast the thing runs in the summary? Eh? EH???
• #### Re:How fast (Score:2)

Slashdot posts a story saying somebody made a robot that runs really fast, why the heck doesn't it say how fast the thing runs in the summary? Eh? EH???

If it was a Roland Piquepaille link, I'd say Google ads. But, it was probably just lazyness.
• #### video? (Score:1)

anyone have a video of the little guy in action?
• #### Um, does anyone else see the rod? (Score:2, Interesting)

RunBot currently walks around the edge of a circular room and is connected the centre of the room by a boom.
Yeah, you see the boom in the videos.

It can walk but can't maintain verticality? Is it there to stabilize it? That's pretty lame if they don't even have to worry about keeping its center of balance ... that's the hardest thing to figure out about fluid bipedal motion!
• #### Re:Um, does anyone else see the rod? (Score:5, Informative)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:27PM (#15071862) Homepage Journal
It can walk but can't maintain verticality? Is it there to stabilize it? That's pretty lame if they don't even have to worry about keeping its center of balance ... that's the hardest thing to figure out about fluid bipedal motion!

Probably just to stop the experiment needing a shitload of space without worrying about explicit turning. Of course, you could have just quoted the entire paragraph (two sentences) - bold face added:

RunBot currently walks around the edge of a circular room and is connected the centre of the room by a boom. But Wörgötter plans to develop a freestanding version next, and thinks it should be straightforward because the boom has only a small influence on its ability to walk.

Doesn't seem quite so problematic now, does it?
• #### Re:Um, does anyone else see the rod? (Score:4, Insightful)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @09:07PM (#15072437)
But Wörgötter plans to develop a freestanding version next, and thinks it should be straightforward because the boom has only a small influence on its ability to walk.

Well what do you expect him to say, that this approach is hopelessly limited?

This isn't the first time we've seen great mobility from tethered robots, but somehow these guys never manage to produce the untethered version. Getting power and proper balancing to an untethered robot seems to be the critical stumbling block and I would be shocked if this one doesn't hit the same issues.
• #### Re:Um, does anyone else see the rod? (Score:2)

Balance is a very complex issue. These guys are just focusing on the walking motion itself, and they've found a simpler and more effective way to do that.

And that's good, because let's face it: that big, shuffling, passive balance robot from Sony looks like crap.
• #### Re:Um, does anyone else see the rod? (Score:1)

It can walk but can't maintain verticality?

• #### Machine Learning (Score:1)

IANA roboticist, but after I RTFA, it seemed like the point was to implement neural networks into more complex aspects of robotics. It seemed to be demonstrating that coding a (relatively) simple machine learning system allowed the robot to develop even an better walking algorithm than those written entirely by humans. As such, it was successful even with the rod.
• #### Re:Um, does anyone else see the rod? (Score:2)

Nah. They've had stand-alone walking robots [mainstreettoys.com] for years. It's not that hard.
• #### Not Quite. (Score:2)

This is a cool little robot - a nice example of how much you can do with a simple design. However, I think it is a bit premature to declare that it has set any biped records, seeing as how it can't balance on two legs yet.

• #### On a related note (Score:3, Funny)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:22PM (#15071828)
The two women who actually read /. are hoping scientist don't put so much effort into their robots finishing quickly when they produce a three-legged bot.
• #### A first: a clueless MIT researcher (Score:2)

"but it may not scale up - but I'll be interested to see if it does." -- Russ Tedrake

The approach may not scale up?

Has the guy heard of humans? Ostriches? Kangaroos? Bipedal locomotion doesn't scale indefinitely (square-cube problem unfortunately), but biological approaches to controlling two-legged walking (and running and bounding) will definitely scale up to lots of "useful" sizes.

And if he's criticizing their current algorithms... of course they won't control a robot 10x larger, but that's just being
• #### Re:A first: a clueless MIT researcher (Score:3, Insightful)

I think he's just saying that our robot overlords won't be much larger than a human. Relax. It's good news.

-matthew
• #### Re:A first: a clueless MIT researcher (Score:1, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward
Dynamics do not automatically scale in a simple fashion. For instance, a 100 meter cockroach might not move as well proportionately as an ordinary sized one.
• #### Re:A first: a clueless MIT researcher (Score:2)

The approach may not scale up?

Has the guy heard of humans? Ostriches? Kangaroos?

Small stuff. Think tyrannosaurs...
• #### Not all that impressive (Score:2)

This thing walks in a circle and is connected to a boom - it can't walk freely. All the legs have to worry about is front/back balance, and not side to side. Of course, making that obvious in the headline or summary would make the article seem much less interesting, and we couldn't have that, now could we?
• #### Re:Not all that impressive (Score:2, Funny)

Could be worse. On Digg, the title would be "All Humans Will Walk With Bionic Legs By 2007!!!!"
• #### Gait generation, White paper (Score:2, Informative)

This thing walks in a circle and is connected to a boom - it can't walk freely. All the legs have to worry about is front/back balance, and not side to side. Of course, making that obvious in the headline or summary would make the article seem much less interesting, and we couldn't have that, now could we?

Accepted. But that wasn't really the point of the research. If you RTFA and RTFWP ( white paper [stir.ac.uk]), these guys are more interested in neuroscience. So what they did was design a simple mechanical system
• #### Remember kids... (Score:5, Insightful)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:26PM (#15071850)
You don't have to be faster than the killer robot.
You just need to be faster than that any other humans you happen to be with.
• #### Re:Remember kids... (Score:2)

[QUOTE]You don't have to be faster than the killer robot.
You just need to be faster than that any other humans you happen to be with.[/QUOTE]

That only works if the killer robot can't catch up with you after killing the other humans :)

LetterRip
• #### Re:Remember kids... (Score:2)

What, is it going to be satisfied with eating, uh, killing only some of us? ;-)

SB
• #### Re:Remember kids... (Score:2)

You never know, it might hit its preset kill limit.
• #### Re:Remember kids... (Score:2)

A preset kill limit would mean leaving survivors who could end your existence. It's illogical programming :-)

SB
• #### not always.... (Score:2)

It could also be called...

FARMING.

• #### Re:not always.... (Score:2)

Exactly! :-)

SB
• #### Re:Remember kids... (Score:1)

Eh, they can always build more killbots.
• #### Re:Remember kids... (Score:2)

Unless he's chassing....YOU!
• #### It's tethered. (Score:2, Funny)

OMG that's so totally cheating!!!!1!11one!1!!
• #### The Wrong Trousers (Score:2)

Hah! In the first video it sounds exactly like the wrong trousers.
• #### Re:The Wrong Trousers (Score:1)

I concur. They're the wrong trousers indeed.
• #### Runbot (Score:4, Insightful)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:38PM (#15071939) Journal
Althought called "runbot" it's actually a speedwalkerbot. at least that's all the videos show. At no point are fewer than one foot on the ground.
• #### Re:Runbot (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:10PM (#15072138) Journal
Yeah, I know that the dynamics of running -- one leap after another -- are possibly more complicated than, and definitely different than the dynamics for walking. Nonetheless, I always used to like our cross-country club races (when I did run CC, and later when I'd watch my brother run) in the Shenandoah Valley. There were a few "English walkers" who would outwalk quite a few runners. That includes me. It's just a little embarassing to be struggling along, still leaping from leg to leg in that slow hobble that we call "long distance running", and have somebody breezily walk past you (same direction) and offer a little how-do-you-do.
• #### Re:Runbot (Score:2)

You were using too much of your energy to push up, rather than forward. Your feet may leave the ground, the trick is to not have to let most of your weight change height too much in any given stride (up too high, you have to catch it on the way down. Down too low, gotta push it back up). Saves lots of energy.
• #### Re:Runbot (Score:3, Interesting)

You were using too much of your energy to push up, rather than forward. Your feet may leave the ground, the trick is to not have to let most of your weight change height too much in any given stride (up too high, you have to catch it on the way down. Down too low, gotta push it back up). Saves lots of energy.

Tell that to the Kangaroos [trnmag.com]! They have one of the most efficient bidepal locomotion stratagies because as they land they stretch two massive tendons and store all the kinetic energy, which they then u

• #### Re:Runbot (Score:3, Interesting)

The kangaroos are storing the energy on coming down, and releasing most of it coming back up. A human doesn't have the same kind of mechanical advantage, and relies on muscle power to do the up and down motion. Therefore, it's more efficient for a human to keep vertical motion to a minimum so that the majority of the energy can be devoted to forward locomotion. The achilles tendon does help with humans, but it's not to the same extent as in kangaroos. Besides, if you watch a kangaroo when it's just movi
• #### Qurio's the runner? (Score:3, Insightful)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:43PM (#15071976) Homepage
Didn't Qurio claim to be the world's first "running" robot?

I always thought Qurio was great: push him over and no matter what orientation he ends up in, he can get back to his feet again. I think it's not too far away that after they get up off the ground, they come over and slap you for pushing them over...

As to the whole walking thing - it's a fascinating topic I think:

1) walking is a controlled fall, the only thing preventing you from going face-first into the pavement is that next foot fall.

2) Maximum cruising speed is attained in a single revolution. No other animal or engine can claim the same (AFAIK).
• #### Re:Qurio's the runner? (Score:2)

2) Maximum cruising speed is attained in a single revolution. No other animal or engine can claim the same
I'm really unclear how you can claim that human walking/running is achieved in a single revolution. Certainly, there is a huge curve of surge in the first revolution, but nothing as grandiose as you claim.
• #### Re:Qurio's the runner? (Score:2)

Not running: walking.

1) stand still.
2) begin walking.
3) measure speed after single step.

speed = cruising speed.

ipso facto: 1 revolution = cruising speed.

And in fact, it's more like HALF a revolution, because two steps is a full revolution.

Other animals can claim to achieve the same effect for their walking gait, but none can claim the efficiencies of the human gait, in terms of calories expended per kilogram carried per kilometres traveled.

(Only a fully laden 747 is more efficient than a man on a racing bic
• #### 1 question (Score:3, Funny)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:46PM (#15071997)
How is it a 2-legged robot?

Without the boom it will fall over, nor could it walk.

Of course it can't even STOP , that might be a minor issue for usefulness ;p

Hurfy
Fastest man on 2 legs...while running down the aisle of the airliner anyways...
• #### Tethered? (Score:3, Interesting)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:47PM (#15072003)
Call be back when it's untethered, has arms, and can stand itself back up after it trips. Then I'll be impressed. Until then, it's no more impressive than a bot on wheels.
• #### Re:Tethered? (Score:2)

And please warn everyone before you start making them come standard with built in weapons.
• #### Oblig. Simpsons (Score:5, Funny)

<maximius AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:48PM (#15072007)
C:\DOS
C:\DOS\RUN
RUN DOS RUN
• #### Amazing..! (Score:2, Interesting)

And this is what Kevin Kelly says [kk.org] in his excellent book Out of Control (The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World). Start with small and dumb machines, follow nature and gradually build up the complexity. The efforts of creating one machine which does it all is going to fail.
• #### YES BUT (Score:2, Funny)

They need to change run, to dance. Also, they need to include that it was rocking out to Mr. Roboto. DOMO ARIGATO MR ROBOT *FUUEEEEEWWWW**FUUEEEEEWWWW*
• #### I, for one... (Score:3, Funny)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:18PM (#15072179) Homepage
welcome the lack of any obvious "I for one welcome our new two-legged running robotic speed record breaker overlords" jokes so far. :P
• #### Scary (Score:2, Insightful)

That is teh creepiest freaking thing I have ever seen.
• #### Re:Scary (Score:2)

Obviously you didn't watch the video of the four-legged mule robot developed by DARPA. It looks like some took two emaciated humans and encased them head to head, bent over, inside a metal framework. Combine that with the noise it makes and I spent the entire time watching the video feeling pity for the new creation and wishing someone would allow me to end its torment.

This just looks like a gumby stop-action reject.
• #### yes but... (Score:1)

...will it run on Linux?

In all seriousness though, in the video it looked like the robot wasn't balancing itself. Instead it was attached to an arm coming from the center of the circle the robot was walking in to keep it upright. I have to say that this will be a lot more impressive when they can pull this off without having to hold the robot's hand.
• #### Re:yes but... (Score:1)

and how long will it be before somebody sues them for infringing their "method of forward locomotion" patent.
• #### Robot Sues! (Score:1)

...And in the news of the bizarre, a robot is suing the entire human race for infringing upon its patented method of forward locomotion. While the ruling on the case is still up in the air, officials are suggesting people purchase Segways or wheelchairs, just in case.
• #### Is it me? (Score:1)

I am already getting bored with all these articles about robots, isn't there anything worthy going on in the IT world besides robots that can do human-like things?

I mean, my problem is, slashdot is getting boring! I need something to read about while I'm at work! How am I gonna be productive like that? Oh, wait...
• #### Lousy name. (Score:1, Funny)

RunBot? Please, who came up with that? Shouldn't it be called GoBot?
• #### The million-dollar robot (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @10:02PM (#15072720)
But can they build him faster? stronger?
• #### Other Uses (Score:1)

I'm curious why no one brought up other possible uses of this idea. While it is obviously far from perfected this might be a nice technology for the disabled or injured to have. Being able to appear to walk normally and move about would be really nice. I know that there have been a lot of injuries in Iraq involving legs and other movement impairing injuries.
• #### Re:Other Uses (Score:2)

While it is obviously far from perfected this might be a nice technology for the disabled or injured to have. Being able to appear to walk normally and move about would be really nice.

And who is going to follow the disabled around proping them up with a stick? This thing can't walk. Wörgötter claims the boom maintaining vertical stability only has a small influence on the system. But I would wager that maintaining vertical stability is the most difficult thing to simulate in this sort of excersis

• #### Yes but can it moon walk? (Score:3, Funny)

on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:45PM (#15073180)
Yes but can it moon walk? Though I am not sure I want to see moonwalking again anyway.
• #### Not impressive (Score:1)

"RunBot currently walks around the edge of a circular room and is connected the centre of the room by a boom. But Wörgötter plans to develop a freestanding version next, and thinks it should be straightforward because the boom has only a small influence on its ability to walk."

This whole thing is not impressive. That thing would never walk on it's own if it didn't have that arm holding it up. I think I've seen things like that made out of wood and sold at craft fairs...
• #### Re:Not impressive (Score:2)

My sentiments exactly. I look forward to a free-standing version that can use a simple pseudo-neural program to walk on two legs. I can see from the video that they have a long way to go before they can build a free-standing one. At the very least, it needs articulated ankles and hips.
• #### In the words of the great... (Score:2, Funny)

Härter. Schneller. Geh ans Limit. Übertriff dich selbst. Lerne, deinen Arsch zu meistern.

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