For many of us, walking is second nature. Most babies learn to walk by the time they're one, and as such, it's kind of something we take for granted.
For robots, the road to walking on two feet has been much more difficult.
Take Honda's recently retired ASIMO robot, for example. Development on this humanoid bot started back in the 80s, and the finished product wasn't unveiled until the 2000s. When ASIMO was introduced to the world, it was the first robot to have the ability to walk like people--on two legs. Honda only just stopped working on ASIMO in June of this year.
Honda's robot is impressive--he can climb stairs, dance, recognize people's faces, and more. But of course, that impressiveness came at a cost. Not counting the decades of development that went into ASIMO, the robot is decked out with a complex array of motors and sensors that total up to around $1 million. To achieve Honda's vision of having ASIMO-like robot helpers in homes across the country, the cost is going to have to drop way down.
How do we make bipedal (two-legged) robots feasible for everyone? For researchers at the University of Tokyo, the answer is strap a drone onto the top of them. Take a look at their Aerial-Biped bot in action:
Essentially, the amount of development required for this robot is much less than, say, ASIMO. Obviously, this robot is not nearly as capable or complex as Honda's robot, and the lead researcher of the project says that the Aerial-Biped would be more suited for an "entertainment application" than any other kind of real-life application, according to IEEE Spectrum.
Nonetheless, this type of technology is finding its way into other robots, such as the blimp-headed BALLU robot from UCLA. Impractical though it seems now, who knows? Your next robot helper may be an airhead.
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I'm a sci-fi/fantasy lover & writer who especially likes talking about Star Wars and futuristic tech. I like finding new things & finding the beauty in old things, especially in my "Everyday Snippets" series. I hope you'll join me on my blog and unleash your imagination!