BlueBiped, a Human-like Walking Robot Powered by its Own Weight
The Sano Lab. at the Nagoya Institute of Technology have developed a passive walking robot, designed to walk using only its own weight, without any motors, sensors, computers or electricity. To begin walking all this robot requires is a push.
Without making this accomplishment any less awesome, these robot legs — called BlueBiped, and made by researchers at the Nagoya Institute of Technology in Japan — are basically just an imitation of human physiology. There are thighs and lower legs made out of aluminium that are the same length as their human counterparts, and ankles and knee joints for articulation, but… that’s it. No sensors, no computers, no “musculature” — the legs are completely passive, you just give them a push… and they carry on walking. As long as there’s a slight downwards slope, anyway — there has to be some source of energy, after all, and in this case it’s gravity.
Last year, BlueBiped successfully walked for 13 hours continuously — 100,000 consecutive steps, 9 miles (15km) — without human intervention. Now the researchers seem to be thinking of actual, commercial applications for BlueBiped. They have tested a modified version that can be worn like an exoskeleton, which apparently can help people walk. In the video, “sports equipment” is also mentioned, though we’re not sure what that means — robot tennis instructors, perhaps?
An earlier prototype of the BlueBiped legbot walked its way into the Guinness Book of Records last year for strutting 13 hours continuously, making 100,000 consecutive steps over the equivalent of nine miles -- all without human intervention. Now, with the help of System Instruments, the team plans to develop a commercial version.
There are two big ideas on the horizon: one is to transform the BlueBiped into some kind of exoskeleton to help people who have trouble walking. Another idea is to make the robot help out with sports equipment. Could be handy on the golf range, as long as it's all downhill. The team wants to release a commercial version within the next couple of years.