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German engineers demo ROBOT APE

Knuckle-walking metal gorilla

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Balance is relatively easy for humans because we spent millennia evolving into walking upright, but it's difficult for robotics researchers. Researchers at the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence have decided to skip bipedism in favour of a robot that walks like an ape.

The 18 kg robot, dubbed iStruct by its creators, is designed to demonstrate the advantages of using feet that can contact the ground at many points, rather than single-point-contact feet (which are, after all, easier to engineer).

Each foot has “49 pressure sensors, a three axis acceleration sensor, one distance sensor, three absolute position sensors, one temperature sensor, and one 6DoF force-torque sensor”, the centre states, with position sensors and force sensors along the spine. The body of the 'bot carries the batteries and an inertial measurement unit.

The researchers plan to swap the current design's rigid spine with an actuated spine for greater mobility. They describe iStruct as a space robotics project, and have tested the robot on an artificial crater. The video of iStruct walking, below, is also in the crater. ®

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