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Robot Walks Like a Human, Requires No Power

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the it-will-chase-you-in-your-nightmares dept.

Robotics 195

MrSeb writes "Today's groundbreaking entry into the Uncanny Valley is a pair of mechanical, robot legs that are propelled entirely by their own weight: they can walk with a human-like gait without motors or external control. Produced by some researchers at Nagoya Institute of Technology in Japan, all the legs require for sustained motion (they walked 100,000 steps, 15km, over 13 hours last year) is a gentle push and a slight downwards slope. They then use same 'principle of falling' that governs human walking, with the transfer of weight (and the slight pull of gravity), pulling the robot into consecutive steps."

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Perpetual motion!!!11one1! (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836024)

Oh wait - small caveat - requires a downhill slope. In the next article we will discover that scientists create a ball that also rolls downhill forever without a power source. OK, maybe it's a feat of balance and engineering but come on...

Re:Perpetual motion!!!11one1! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836066)

Balancing? It has FOUR legs. This is about as exciting as a wheelchair.

Re:Perpetual motion!!!11one1! (2, Informative)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836118)

Well the slashdot post is misleading. It is not powerless, it uses gravity. The interesting thing is, that is uses human motion properties and no electrical power to stay in motion.

Re:Perpetual motion!!!11one1! (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836154)

It is not powerless, it uses gravity.

No, it uses "slight gravity". We're given to believe that this object generates a frame of reference around it where gravity is some fraction of 9.8ms-2.

Re:Perpetual motion!!!11one1! (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836360)

that is uses human motion properties and no electrical power to stay in motion.

Oh? What happens if you take away the power to the treadmill?

Re:Perpetual motion!!!11one1! (2)

wed128 (722152) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836574)

it...walks forward

Re:Perpetual motion!!!11one1! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37837480)

So, you think the treadmill is powering you, when you walk on it?

Re:Perpetual motion!!!11one1! (0)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836750)

Article title seems to be referencing

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetual_motion [wikipedia.org]

Unfortunately, it's more like 13393037's slinky. I thought they replicated human movement back when they came up with motion capture? I just don't see where this fits into anything lol, besides being geared for a treadmill... I don't know anybody that would be overjoyed to get a pair of these to ONLY walk downhill, the future looks something more like these WITH a battery pack from all the electricity we harnessed back in the day to power them. Now how advanced can the battery pack be is the real question ;)

Re:Perpetual motion!!!11one1! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837050)

I don't know anybody that would be overjoyed to get a pair of these to ONLY walk downhill ...

Yeah, my life seems like it's uphill both ways.

Re:Perpetual motion!!!11one1! (1, Interesting)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837566)

Actually, it's slight gravity *or* a push. Imagine you're quadriplegic, but can lean forwards/backwards slightly. This seems enough to give you forward motion. Imagine you're old and infirm but can still generate a bit of power in your leg muscles, this can reasonably help you take steps.

Re:Perpetual motion!!!11one1! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836146)

its a natural gait that doesnt require power. Consider what the effect of some weight above those legs can do, just by shifting that weight forward. It makes lifelike robotics a lot closer to reality.

Re:Perpetual motion!!!11one1! (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836336)

"its a natural gait that doesnt require power."

As pointed out, it requires the power of gravity.

"Consider what the effect of some weight above those legs can do, just by shifting that weight forward."

As pointed out, it requires a slope. Shifting weight forward doth not a slope make.

" It makes lifelike robotics a lot closer to reality."

Right up until they come up against a wall at the bottom of the hill, it should look "realistic".

You remind me of a teenage friend who spent the summer experimenting with model cars by jacking the rear end up to take advantage of the 'downhill' it created.

Re:Perpetual motion!!!11one1! (0)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837592)

As pointed out, it requires the power of gravity.

OR a small push. As the parent pointed out, shifting weight forward should be enough by the looks of it.

As pointed out, it requires a slope. Shifting weight forward doth not a slope make.

OR a small push. Shifting weight forward *does* make a small amount of forward momentum.

Re:Perpetual motion!!!11one1! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836246)

...that are propelled entirely by their own weight...

Weight is a force. Weight = mass * gravity. Nowhere is it stating that its perpetual motion, so stfu troll.

Re:Perpetual motion!!!11one1! (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837176)

Yep. Of course the fact that the original text of the summary has been changed helps you see me that way.

Re:Perpetual motion!!!11one1! (1)

jitterman (987991) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836774)

+1. Others by now have posted an observation equivalent to yous, but you managed a quality first post.

Fascinating. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836042)

If it weren't for a recent episode of Mythbusters that showed that humans need external directional cues to maintain their own guidance (otherwise we wander and circle without realizing it) I'd say I want to see this thing work on just two legs. But to work on two legs it would need external guidance, which would eliminate the untethered, unpowered aspect.

So instead I'll say: okay, now make one that has a simple motor that can walk up that slope indefinitely.

Re:Fascinating. (3, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836094)

Actually the human part has more to do with the way we're wired and with one side being more dominant than the other (and thus having both faster nerve conduction and stronger muscles than the other side), than actual engineering. You could build a perfectly symmetrical object and I guess the only things that would knock it off course are wind, thermal effects and the Coriolis effect. You can't build a perfectly symmetrical human though.

Re:Fascinating. (2)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836200)

The article (and you) are implying that adding power (even internal) defeats much of the purpose, and puts us into BIGDOG or ALPHADOG type territory; would there not still be a large efficiency gain over traditional walking robots, such that an internal power source is much more feasible than it would otherwise have been?

Re:Fascinating. (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836532)

Thing is, this thing only seems to be efficient in a very narrow scenario. When we stand up, we're in a very unstable equilibrium. It's like leaning back in your chair; you can balance it nicely for a bit but it will always fall one way or the other. Our muscles, eyes, inner ear, etc work constantly to make sure we stand up straight. We use the same concept to make robots that can balance on a single wheel (see Inverse Pendulum). It's a great exercise in feedback control.

Now this robot is in the same unstable equilibrium, but it's designed such that if it falls a certain way it can move. This is accomplished by removing some degrees of freedom from the robot. Notice it really only bends at the hip and knee. To accommodate all the variety of our environment, we've evolved many degrees of freedom in our foot, ankle, pelvis, etc. So, if we want a robot that can do the same degrees of tasks as us, we need to add back those degrees of freedom to this robot, which in turn will make it fall over, thus defeating its purpose.

Re:Fascinating. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836864)

Exactly... and if you've ever badly sprained your ankle (which I'm in the middle of recovering from now) you quickly understand just how much, even that small part, is integral to how we move.

Re:Fascinating. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836310)

Ah Mythbusters, the last great bastion of science.

Re:Fascinating. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836862)

It's going downhill. There's a clearly defined direction here. And I'm sure a human wouldn't go in circles in that case either (which would involve going uphill instead of downhill after some time).

Re:Fascinating. (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837254)

humans need external directional cues to maintain their own guidance (otherwise we wander and circle without realizing it

Hmmm I wonder if having a tail would correct that....
-looks at sleeping neighbor and stapler-

Freakin' wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836044)

Seriously.

Re:Freakin' wow. (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836558)

Seriously what? Passive walkers have been around for nearly 3 decades.

Re:Freakin' wow. (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837226)

Longer than that, I remember getting plastic walking toys in my corn flakes back in the 60's, and they had two legs and a body.

My grandfather made one of these... (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836084)

He made a set of wooden walking bipedal mice for my father when he was a boy.

It was less impressive. But gravity powered walking toys have been around for decades.

Re:My grandfather made one of these... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836288)

He made a set of wooden walking bipedal mice for my father when he was a boy.

It was less impressive. But gravity powered walking toys have been around for decades.

Yes, but this one is Japanese. Key distinction. That obviously makes it more betterer.

Re:My grandfather made one of these... (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836470)

Yes, but this one is Japanese. Key distinction. That obviously makes it more betterer.

Funny, I would have gone with.

a) It's made out of aluminum therefor it's better.
b) It was made by scientists who noted what they did for the betterment of mankind.
c) It's bigger.

Re:My grandfather made one of these... (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836638)

It was made by scientists who noted what they did for the betterment of mankind.

As did the scientists in the 1980s that did the exact same thing. Somewhat interesting to watch? Sure. Groundbreaking? Hardly.

Re:My grandfather made one of these... (1)

aix tom (902140) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837236)

>c) It's bigger.

Pshawwwww, .....

Hasn't 99% of the "technological progress" hailed by the media in the last decades been:
c) It's smaller.

Re:My grandfather made one of these... (4, Informative)

savuporo (658486) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836556)

No kidding. A random article from 2005
http://www.world-science.net/othernews/050217_robotfrm.htm [world-science.net]
But researchers at Cornell University in New York State, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Holland’s Delft University of Technology have built robots that seem to more closely mimic the human gait -- and the Cornell robot matches human efficiency, their designers say. The researchers’ inspiration: simple walking toys that fascinated children in the 19th century.
....
Researchers at each of the three universities have built walking robots, differing slightly but based on the same principle. They are an extension of several years of research into “passive-dynamic walkers” that walk down a shallow slope, very much like simple walking toys that have been around since the 1800s and developed more scientifically starting in 1988.

Re:My grandfather made one of these... (1)

notKevinJohn (2218940) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836762)

Yeah, like Slinkys

Re:My grandfather made one of these... (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836894)

Same thought - I remember toys like this in my cereal boxes as a kid. They walk down a slant as long as it's neither too shallow or too steep.

so what? (-1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836142)

Great. I've also built a self-propelled bike that requires no energy to run either. Did I mention it only works when riding on a downward incline?

Re:so what? (1)

SlippyToad (240532) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836378)

I've also built a self-propelled bike that requires no energy to run either.

That's nothing. Beavis & Butthead built a self-propelled giant truck tire that took out half of Highland.

Re:so what? (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836402)

You're missing the point. The idea is that, because it walks passively, you only need to pump in a little extra energy to make it keep walking. Compare this with systems like the Honda Asimo, which don't really walk dynamically, never really build up any momentum, and need to expend a lot of energy just to continue taking steps.

Passive walkers are not entirely new. A tinker-toy passive walker was famous in the robotics community in the early '00s. But this one looks more refined.

Next, I want to see more effort going into powering these things in a way that meshes nicely with the idea of them walking passively. The closest stuff I've seen to that would be Boston Dynamics and MABEL.

Re:so what? (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836490)

The idea is that, because it walks passively, you only need to pump in a little extra energy to make it keep walking.

Sure as long as you never run out if downward slope but how realistic is that? Come back to me when this can passively walk up an incline.

Re:so what? (2)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836790)

So, I'm the first to call out academic research as pointless. But I don't think this is.

Imagine two methods of moving an object back and forth.

The first is a playground swing. It can't power itself, but, by kicking it occasionally, you can get it to start swinging, and, once you do, you only need to put in a little extra power to keep that going.

The second is a little cart with powered wheels. It can drive forwards and backwards, and there's nothing to stop you from just driving it rapidly forwards and backwards over and over.

Which is more efficient?

The idea, making an analogy, is that a leg design like this is to walking, as a playground swing is to moving an object back and forth. One way to pump in energy is to make it walk downhill. But another would be to start adding some self-powering capability. I agree with you insofar as I would like to see that happen. Where we disagree, I think, is just in that I'm not dismissing the passive, mechanical side of the work, because I think it's an important part of making that happen.

I'll also acknowledge that passive walkers are not themselves new. But this is one of the better-executed ones I've seen.

Re:so what? (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836958)

You seem to be missing my point which is that the claims of the summary and the linked article are hugely hyperbolic. While this set of legs might be well-engineered this is neither groundbreaking nor does it walk with "no power". And how it has any relevance to "uncanny valley" is also a mystery.

It does require power (2, Informative)

tsa (15680) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836152)

It does require power, namely gravitational energy.

Re:It does require power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836270)

Power, meet energy/time. Energy, meet power*time. Power != time.

Re:It does require power (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836278)

It does require power, namely gravitational energy.

power : rate :: energy : quantity

Re:It does require power (1)

Rary (566291) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836668)

It does require power, namely gravitational energy.

And a push. And, if you watch the video, someone standing by to stop it from falling over.

Give me a long enough sloped surface, and I'll show you a ball that can go even further, without falling over, and with no need for a push.

This is just an old child's toy embiggened and made out of aluminum.

Re:It does require power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37837244)

It is however, very cromulent

Re:It does require power (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837086)

Yes, that's what "propelled by their own weight" means. Your reading comprehension skills were not in doubt, but thanks for verifying for us all that you did in fact read what the summary says correctly.

Groundbreaking? (4, Informative)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836218)

I've seen this kind of design before. In fact, you can make it yourself: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Build-A-Walking-Robot---Passive-Walker/ [instructables.com]

Some other prior art: http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/shc17/Passive_Robot/PassiveRobot_photos.htm [cmu.edu]

Obviously this is probably much better in certain ways but it's tough to call this thing groundbreaking

Re:Groundbreaking? (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836540)

While I respect their accomplishment, I agree, I wouldn't call it "groundbreaking." Of course, very little academic research actually is.

The same goes for other areas of society. Gutenberg wasn't the first to use movable type; Columbus wasn't the first European to make it to the New World; Taylor and MacLaurin weren't the first to use their eponymous expansions; Jacobi, it turns out, scooped the Hungarian Algorithm (but his manuscript was lost until recently); the Ming dynasty had clocks with mechanical escapements;...

It's not just about being first. It's also about timing and execution. Just look at the iPod.

All of which is to say, that incrementalism is OK. Are passive walkers fundamentally new? No. But I'll give these guys a little credit anyway.

Re:Groundbreaking? (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836706)

Of course, I won't deny them the credit they deserve. Their system looks well engineered. And in their defense obviously the writer of the article is using the term "groundbreaking"

But at the same time I don't see a paper anywhere and I don't see any citations on prior work so this sort of thing should really be noted. This is especially true in an area like robotics (my field) where terms like innovative and groundbreaking get thrown around a lot. When really, it's just a rehash of an idea used in another discipline applied to robotics.

Re:Groundbreaking? (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837046)

This is especially true in an area like robotics (my field) where terms like innovative and groundbreaking get thrown around a lot. When really, it's just a rehash of an idea used in another discipline applied to robotics.

Yeah, I know the feeling.

Even great, celebrated, actually-(somewhat)-useful ideas turn out to be simple applications of other ones. Take the Kalman Filter. If you come at it from a least-squares point of view and focus on the word "optimal" -- as it was first explained -- it sounds extremely impressive. But if you explain what a Bayes Filter is (after which people say, "ok, that's simple enough"), and then specialize it to Gaussian noise and linear systems (again to the reaction "ok, that's easy"), you've just got a straightforward homework problem you can solve by completing a square, at which point you've arrived at the same filter by a process that makes it look a great deal less earth-shattering.

I just feel bad for the poor undergrads, who've been fed so much hype they don't know what's real and what's not. They come in saying they want to study robotics and going on about "emergent behaviors" and "neural networks" as I slowly shake my head and try to undo the damage wrought by a thousand assistant professors of the 1990s scrambling for grant money and tenure.

Re:Groundbreaking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836674)

Passive Dynamic Walking (PDW) was demonstrated as far back as 1988 by Tad McGeer.

http%3A%2F%2Fciteseerx.ist.psu.edu%2Fviewdoc%2Fdownload%3Fdoi%3D10.1.1.97.3265%26rep%3Drep1%26type%3Dpdf&ei=CB-nTtDBKIGaiQKfwuGlDQ&usg=AFQjCNEIE0goKPqMYEIopolc47TGc4-kag&cad=rja
http://ijr.sagepub.com/content/9/2/62.short

Re:Groundbreaking? (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837602)

They had no good copy-pasta back then, did they?

Why does it require so much attention? (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836820)

It's especially hard to call it groundbreaking when it requires a guy standing next to it touching it every few seconds. I don't think he left it alone for more than about 5 seconds, and the attention was a little unnerving. Is it really that fragile?

Please! (5, Insightful)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836244)

Stop calling these robots! Do you call Newton's Cradle [wikipedia.org] a robot as well? What about the Drinking Bird [wikipedia.org] or even the common Slinky? Just b/c it has a shape that is in two pieces like a leg does not a robot make, esp one that relies on gravity to perform any motion.

Re:Please! (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836420)

+1

Re:Please! (1)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836434)

Would you accept the term android then? That's a word derived from its similarity to humans.

Re:Please! (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836460)

Only if you count the common door hinge as an Android since it's shape is similar to this. Two pieces hinged in the middle works by gravity (or a slightly off door alignment).

Re:Please! (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836576)

How about apparatus, thingamajig, whatchamacallit, whosimawhatchit, thingamabob, or doohickey?

Re:Please! (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837082)

Robot (n): Any machine we choose to anthropomorphize.

Can you come up with a better definition? I think that one's the truth.

Re:Please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37837580)

Well, I guess the only way this contraption exceeds a WHEEL rolling down a hill, or a Slinky, is that it descends in a very graceful manner. Actually, a Slinky is even somewhat graceful and MUCH simpler!

Kind of like a slinky (1)

generic (14144) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836316)

Falling down stairs.

Extreme sport? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836344)

I guarantee this will become an extreme sport within a year. Either a special olympics event or perhaps horse jockeys. Or maybe full size physically healthy people doing some kind of ultra extreme surfing thing.

Would I run down a hill as fast as I can on my own two feet? No thats crazy, I would twist an ankle or a knee, maybe permanent damage... But if that were a robot ankle or robot knee, and I had enough dollars for sponsorship not to worry about it...

There are also military defense issues. If you could make them cheap enough to be disposable, any time you're pinned down on a hill you airdrop a thousand or so of them, and you have an excellent distractor for your escape. Heck put an anti-personnel charge in the decoys while you're at it.

Passive walkers are old news (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836348)

This is [youtube.com] old news [umich.edu] .

Re:Passive walkers are old news (1)

starless (60879) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837588)

The lego version doesn't have knees. Do knees count as a breakthrough?!

Passive walkers, again. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836374)

Passive walkers have been around for a long time. There was a fad for studying them a few years back, but it didn't lead to anything. The important issues in legged locomotion all involve handling difficult terrain. On flat surfaces, wheels work better.

So it's a pimped Slinky . . . (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836418)

Sure, it's a start, and it's cool . . . but I would have been more amused if they had build a massively parallel array of Slinkys instead. Maybe a Buckyball shaped scary looking thingie with cameras and minimal remote direction control.

Check Wikipedia for "Passive Dynamics" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836426)

Wikipedia your groundbreaking ideas, guys, to make sure they're groundbreaking.
https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Passive_dynamics

20 years ago this was groundbreaking. Start with McGeer's work; then google "passive dynamic walking". You'll find a device which is nearly identical to this one.

Re:Check Wikipedia for "Passive Dynamics" (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836844)

20 years ago? Apparently there are patents for ramp walkers dating back to 1938. http://blog.dugnorth.com/2011/02/download-plans-for-ramp-walking-wooden.html [dugnorth.com] has some plans for making one.

Any Amish or Mennonites online who could point us to earlier designs?

Re:Check Wikipedia for "Passive Dynamics" (1)

frieza79 (947618) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837258)

Any Amish or Mennonites online who could point us to earlier designs?

This has got to be a joke.

Gorilla (1)

skrimp (790524) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836452)

I'm sorry, but to me it looks more like a gorilla swinging it's body, moving both feet forward between it's long arms. Just sayin.

It goes downhill without any power (1)

Digital_Quartz (75366) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836462)

So... a wheel?

Re:It goes downhill without any power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836818)

It's very clever.
But notice the "environmentally friendly" sop? Yes, about as environmentally friendly as a wheel rolling downhill.
I like the fact that it seems to go downhill rather more slowly than a wheel, though.

Gentle push + downward slope = joke (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836464)

All it needs is a gentle push and a downward slope?

So they made a two legged thing that duplicates what a wheel can do? How about trying to do better than an 6,000 year old invention. Yes, the engineering to get a two legged machine to duplicate what a wheel can do is interesting, but I would expect a high school kid to be able to do that.

Re:Gentle push + downward slope = joke (1)

dnsdude (1713006) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836704)

A high school kid to design a wheel? I think soapbox derby cars are made by 5th-graders. If the silly "robot" actually *used* power and could, say, navigate stairs, they might have something.

Re:Gentle push + downward slope = joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836738)

Its not even new. This was developed in the late 1980s.

Re:Gentle push + downward slope = joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836884)

Why bother inventing electricity and the light bulb to do what a candle can do? Sure, it's interesting, but any fool can kill an animal and turn its fat into tallow, this whole electricity thing is just needlessly complicated and expensive.

Re:Gentle push + downward slope = joke (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837032)

Excerpt this isn't anything like that at all. Outside of possibly using more modern materials nothing they do is revolutionary or groundbreaking.

Not really new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836550)

I had toys like that when I was a chid, some 50 years ago. Put 'em on a slope, give them a shove, and they shuffle down. Hours of fun.

Now, get off my grass...

This one was more impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836562)

That's not bipedal, this [cmu.edu] is bipedal.

not new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836610)

I've been walking like that my whole life. In my case the middle leg doesn't quite touch the ground.

This is going to be the basis of my novel... (2)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836682)

AHA! I have found the plot for my great sci fi novel.

Alien robots land on mountain tops all around the world... they start marching down- destroying all life as we know it- they appear indestructible- mankind is doomed...

Until mankind discovers their fatal flaw... they can only walk downhill.

Reminds me of.. (1)

Pflipp (130638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836754)

http://www.strandbeest.com/ [strandbeest.com]

Found this guy mentioned in a forum once, turns out he lives at walking distance from me. I think it's the coolest thing ever.

Walks like a human? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836766)

this puppy is four-legged. this human is not.

Easy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836788)

That's alot of money to spend on what a BALL can do!

"Pair"? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836868)

Jesus, I'm much drunker than I thought.

How is this more than a rolling pin? (1)

goffster (1104287) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836870)

If I put a rolling pin on a treadmill on a downward slope, I achieve the same effect.

Re:How is this more than a rolling pin? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837008)

If I put a rolling pin on a treadmill on a downward slope, I achieve the same effect.

No, you don't. No matter what you do with a rolling pin, it will not walk with a human-like gait.

...huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37836928)

So, these people discovered you can use gravity to go downhill? Um...great?

Is it truly a "robot"? Or just an ingredient? (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836990)

If it has no on-board power or control, does it make sense to call it a "robot"? It might be a useful demonstration of "simple legs we could put on a walking robot", and demonstrate that comparatively simple motive devices could move it in the same linear way that gravity does, but I think "robot" is stretching the envelope . . . on the bottom.

Very old research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37837054)

This isn't new or cutting edge at all! - Cornell have been doing work on passive dynamic walking for over a decade, they produced exactly the same systems years ago (just without the polish of the Japanese one) and there is a ton of publications available on-line documenting the work. Those of us who have been following this type of work have frequently asked - when the hell are the Japanese going to catch up!

A lot of the work done by Boston Dynamics is building on the earlier work on passive dynamics (including similar work done in the MIT Leg lab) - they are adding power and control.

I would've had the record (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37837142)

but my slinky stopped on the very last step. Can you believe it! Couldn't try it again cause I had to catch a plane to find some nasty bat.

My slinky "walked" 13,000 miles, too (1)

davide marney (231845) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837192)

All without external power! Using only gravity!

Treadmills... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37837218)

This is why treadmills are worthless for keeping you in shape. It takes very little effort to keep up with one.

Umm, no power? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37837250)

So, it's walks on a treadmill that is in a delcined position. So, as the foot lands forward, it is taken back to the back of the treadmill which is higher off the ground than the front thus having more potential energy. And it repeats.

Propelled by their "own weight". Not even close.

Almost human? (1)

socz (1057222) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837264)

They can only "walk like humans" if they can't walk in a straight line! They just tested out that 'myth' on mythbuster of humans not walking straight unless they can see where they're going. It was really interesting to see, even the swimming portion. If you haven't seen it, check it out:

WALK A STRAIGHT LINE
Premiere: Oct. 12, 2011

Is it impossible for humans (without a point of reference) to walk in a straight line, such as when they're blindfolded? Will binary explosives, well, explode in the case of a fender bender? The MythBusters are on the case.

dsc.discovery.com/videos/mythbusters-walk-a-straight-line/

I wonder if Amazon ... (1)

aix tom (902140) | more than 2 years ago | (#37837414)

.. will contact them shortly claiming prior art. [youtube.com]

More impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37837464)

Theo Jansen Mechanism [youtube.com]

It doesn't use potential energy but it uses wind. But motion is much cooler [mekanizmalar.com] .

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