Robosaur roams with spring in its step

For the first time, a two-legged, nonhumanoid robot has walked completely on its own, says the machine’s inventor.

Troody, the robot Troodon. D. Coveney

For the past 5 years, Peter Dilworth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been developing Troody-his mobile model of a Troodon, a small, possibly feathered beast that lived some 70 million years ago. Soon, says Dilworth, larger, faster, feather-covered versions of the robosaur will be scurrying around museums and other entertainment venues.

Besides mimicking the way these birdlike dinosaurs probably walked, the current, 4.5-kilogram model might open new directions for designers of independent walking machines.

For one thing, Troody relies on springs for muscles instead of the stiff gears used so far in humanoid robots. So, the device walks with a more “biological” gait, Dilworth says. Moreover, he adds, the robosaur’s resilient control system enables it to negotiate irregular terrain better than the humanoid robots do.

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