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Balancing Robot Can Take a Kicking

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the soon-they'll-be-doing-judo dept.

Robotics 207

BotKicker writes "A Japanese team has created the first full-size humanoid robot that won't fall over if you push it. A video shows it staggering and regaining balance after blows from a researcher. Being able to withstand shoves and kicks is essential if robots are to truly be our buddies, they reckon. 'The robot's balancing ability depends on its joints. For one thing they are never kept rigid, even when standing still, meaning they yield slightly when the robot is pushed. Force sensors within each joint also work out the position and velocity of the robot's centre mass as it moves around. Control software rapidly figures out what forces the robot's feet need to exert on the ground to bring it back into balance, and tells the joints how to act.'"

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Been done (2, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602475)

I saw a show on the Discovery channel over a decade ago showing a one legged robot that could recover it's balance when kicked.

Re:Been done (4, Funny)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602551)

Oh yeah, well I saw a PBS special where a no legged robot could maintain its balance when kicked. I think it was disguised as a garbage can or something. So that's even cooler!

Re:Been done (3, Funny)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603299)

Oh yeah, well I saw a PBS special where a no legged robot could maintain its balance when kicked. ...
Prior Art = Weeble Wobble

Re:Been done (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603463)

State Of The Art = Scientific Grade Companion Cube

Re:Been done (2, Funny)

Freeside1 (1140901) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603535)

Prior Art = Human....

Re:Been done (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603439)

Yeah, but the repeated cries of, "EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!" got a bit annoying after a while with that model.

Re:Been done (1)

q-the-impaler (708563) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603765)

Sounds like a sphere [bstephens.net] .

Re:Been done (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602583)

Yeah, but something that looks like an interrogation droid on a pogo-stick isn't nearly as cute and cuddly as an android. Besides, this one probably doesn't have to jump around as much to regain its balance.

Re:Been done (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21602757)

Yeah, I saw that, too, and nothing about it since. IIRC it was hopping with the one leg, but the top platform stayed fairly steady. They would bump it and the foot would just adjust as it hopped. It wasn't small, but it definitely had a good sense of balance.

Re:Been done (1)

trainman (6872) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603021)

I saw a show on the Discovery channel over a decade ago showing a one legged robot that could recover it's balance when kicked.

I'm just worried about when they start to kick back. Ouch.

Re:Been done (1)

JimDaGeek (983925) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603141)

Well, I "saw" a show where a guy had no legs and no arms and was still fighting strong. He said he name was something like the black knight or so. The guy was invincible!

Re:Been done (1)

jackpot777 (1159971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603339)

Ok, you lot. We'll call it a draw...

Re:Been done (2, Interesting)

Steve Newall (24926) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603241)

There's also Dexter http://anybots.com/dexterwalks.html [anybots.com] that seems to resist a good poke. Dexter can also jump without falling over.

Re:Been done (1)

Whatanut (203397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603417)

Let's put that robot in a butt kicking contest.

Yes! (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602487)

We're on our way to robot Kung Fu!

Re:Yes! (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603367)

Rise of the Robots [wikipedia.org] Highest Scoring Robot Fighting game EVAR!

Rock'em Sock'Em... (2, Funny)

JKSN17 (956518) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602493)

Finally, we can have life size Rock'em Sock'em Robots!!!!

Or Real Dolls (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602783)

New and Improved! They take a kicking and keep on licking!

duh... (1)

quickpick (1021471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602497)

Steven Segal is kicked all the time and he NEVER falls...

Re:duh... (0)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602895)

Chuck Norris' pinky finger could punch a hole through Segal. Too bad Chuck only ever uses his entire fist!

Chuck Norris (5, Funny)

silgaun (1029852) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602519)

What about a roundhouse kick?

Re:Chuck Norris (1)

mc2thaH (920212) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602825)

If it did survive the roundhouse kick, nobody would know about it because they would all get roundhouse kicked before they brought it up!

1st and 3rd Laws (1)

eeek77 (1041634) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603049)

Once you get the robot weighing in on a conflict between the 1st and 3rd laws and you're the subject in questions, well, I just wouldn't want to be in that kind of a dilemma.

I for one... (3, Funny)

Mandovert (1140887) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602539)

I for one welcome our balancing overlords.

Re:I for one... (1)

Rolgar (556636) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602753)

I for one welcome our self-balancing underlings.

ridiculous (3, Insightful)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602545)

That's handy but come on, if I gave it a full force running, mid air, knee extension kick that you use on a person's sternum in martial arts to knock them clear off their feet, I doubt it could stay standing. Of course they didn't make it to combat standard but...if they made it tase me before I got to it when it detected I was about to kick it, now that would solve the problem lol

Re:ridiculous (1)

legallyillegal (889865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602651)

apparently the rcmp is already demoing your idea in airports

Re:ridiculous (1, Insightful)

gihan_ripper (785510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602669)

Well who knows, maybe it could withstand such a barrage, but only by responding with equal and opposite force. Maybe this is why the researchers didn't perform a "full force running, mid air, knee extension kick" on the robot ;)

Re:ridiculous (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602755)

I think the robot withstanding a kick like that and not falling is far less ridiculous than the idea of a slashdot poster being able to perform said kick.

Taking a full on assault from a 350 pound linebacker and staying on it's feet would be a much more impressive ...feat anyway.
Tipping a robot over from the top gives it a lot of time to balance out on the bottom.
Tackling said robot below the center of gravity, or actively forcing it down, results in much less time to adjust, and a more dynamic force to adjust to.

Your username, "ILuvRamen" indicates that you are most likely just another Japan-o-phile (or asian-o-phile in general) acting cool on our series of tubes.

Re:ridiculous (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603851)

Your username, "ILuvRamen" indicates that you are most likely just another Japan-o-phile (or asian-o-phile in general) acting cool on our series of tubes.
Actually, it appears lots of slashdotters like ramen (check out the comments on the story about the death of the inventor of ramen)

Re:ridiculous (3, Informative)

Bwana Geek (1033040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602793)

I doubt the point is for the robot to be impossible to knock over, just for it to have a similar sense of balance to a human. The next step, if I may hazard a guess, would probably be testing to see if it can maintain it's balance while walking along uneven surfaces, stairs, sharp inclines, etc. Also important would be its ability to return to a standing position if a random Slashdotter gives it a full-force, running, midair knee-extension kick.

Re:ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21603039)

No, the next step is obviously to give it a weapon.

He'll see you coming (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602945)

... and taser you long before you get your kick in

Re:ridiculous (1)

Garridan (597129) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603087)

Before too long, I fear that I'm going to destroy robots like this to retain my freedom. The first generation will fall over when kicked... but I'm not so confident about subsequent generations.

Warning: .mov file (0, Redundant)

E. Edward Grey (815075) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602547)

Quicktime (or equivalent ;) ) required to watch.

Re:Warning: .mov file (1)

Miffe (592354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602641)

Worked fine with mplayer plugin-in here.

Re:Warning: .mov file (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21602829)

what are you, a fucking retard?

what gave it away for you? the .mov extension?

Re:Warning: .mov file (1)

athdemo (1153305) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603079)

I'd hope everyone on /. would know what a .mov is by now.

Re:Warning: .mov file (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21603583)

pffft. vlc is king.

I, for one, (4, Funny)

MPAB (1074440) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602559)

welcome our new never falling robot overlords.

Re:I, for one, (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602605)

You're being short-sighted! :)

I, for one, welcome our new Wushu Black-Belt Robot Overlords, and I would like to remind them that as a trusted internet personality, I can help motivate the workers toiling in their underground Whupass Mines.

Latex, Inappropriate touching... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21602569)

Won't someone please think of the robots!

kick me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21602573)

kick me bro.

With friends like these...... (4, Funny)

NiteShaed (315799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602581)

Being able to withstand shoves and kicks is essential if robots are to truly be our buddies, they reckon.


If these guys tend to kick and shove their buddies, it may explain why they have so much time to work on robots....."Finally, a friend I can kick who won't think I'm a jerk"

Nothing like the Server's Kicking. (4, Funny)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602591)

Unlike the robot, the server seems to have been unable to cope with the kicking it got after getting a good hard slashdotting.

Note (2)

moogied (1175879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602599)

Please keep in mind: This is simply the first man sized robot to do this. Several other robots are capable of this feat, some even have legs the size of men, just no top. So it is a step, not a breakthrough or revolution.

With friends like these... (4, Funny)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602601)

Being able to withstand shoves and kicks is essential if robots are to truly be our buddies, they reckon.
If you can't kick your buddy in the head, he really isn't your buddy.

Sounds like someone's been playing too many violent video games.

Re:With friends like these... (5, Funny)

khendron (225184) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603437)

Being able to withstand shoves and kicks is essential if robots are to truly be our buddies, they reckon.
The next generation of "friend" robots will also help you hide a body.

Cool (4, Insightful)

Cillian (1003268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602613)

This is obviously a massive step forward - the major stereotypical problem with robots in the past has been their instability and slow shuffling. This opens the door to having them perform tasks like bend over and pick up weighty objects, which would have probably been impossible without this balancing mechanism.

Re:Cool (5, Funny)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602677)

This is obviously a massive step forward - the major stereotypical problem with robots in the past has been their instability and slow shuffling.

I'd say the major stereotypical problems with robots in the past is that they might go beserk and kill people.

Re:Cool (5, Insightful)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602993)

> perform tasks like bend over and pick up weighty objects

A robot should not bend over and pick up weighty objects. It should squat and pick it up while maintaining it s rear electrical conduit in a straight configuration to prevent getting a herniated servo in the back.
 

Re:Cool (1)

Adam Heath (8109) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603557)

This is obviously a massive step forward
... and backwards ... and sideways

Next step: decide when staggering is a good idea (4, Interesting)

merreborn (853723) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602617)

Sometimes, staggering backwards is the wrong choice.

For example, you're standing on the sidewalk with your back to traffic. Someone bumps into you. You will do everything in your power *not* to stagger backwards in this situation -- you might reach out to grab something solid, like a signpost, a trash can, or the hand of someone with a body mass comparable or greater than your own. But you wouldn't reach for the hand of a child -- you'd just end up pulling them into the street with you.

You've got a split second to make this choice, as well. Make it wrong, and you may die, or even take someone else with you.

Re:Next step: decide when staggering is a good ide (4, Funny)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603157)

You've got a split second to make this choice, as well. Make it wrong, and you may die, or even take someone else with you.
I think you're spending the last moment of your life over-thinking the situation.

First, why wouldn't I reach for the hand of a child (if that was the closet/best option)? If the issue is I'm falling back beause my center of mass is behind me, I only need to shift the mass, not overcome the momentum of my movement. Yes, I will pull the child towards me, but it may be enough of a shift in mass to pull myself towards the child as well.

Second, this is likely on of those less-is-more situations. If I'm on the side of a busy street, and not on the edge of a tall cliff, I'm probably better off just taking a small step back to steady myself. In fighting to keep my feet in front of me, I leave my body without support, and end up falling into traffic.

Third, if I make a habit of putting myself into situations where the slighest loss of balance may result in a life-or-death situation, maybe the gene pool will be better off if I do fall into traffic.

Re:Next step: decide when staggering is a good ide (1)

Explodicle (818405) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603239)

Aha, robots that think to grab onto me as they fall into traffic... how's about we skip that technological marvel?

Re:Next step: decide when staggering is a good ide (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603523)

The 3 laws my friend: If there is a possibility of doing harm by a certain action of the robot, it should not execute that action. Of course robot's (and even humans) have a poor foresight and life is not black and white so if it didn't fall (for example if it fell on the rail tracks) would it cause more harm/death/carnage with it's metal under the train, possibly derailing and harming 100's of people than it would've done when it would've pushed the child to protect itself from falling on the tracks. Life's questions are always so fun to calculate.

Easier (2, Insightful)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602627)

This would be a lot easier if they just made the robots in the shape of a bop bag.

Quoth the robot (4, Funny)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602637)

... "Kick my shiny, metal ass."

Re:Quoth the robot (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603609)

Is the robot made by Timex? "Takes a kicking and keeps on ticking!"

Contempt for Robots (5, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602663)

That video will probably be one of the first exhibits in the Case for the Robot Uprising. As you can clearly see, not only did humans from the beginning view robots as being menial servants that we can push around and bully, we actually engineered them so that we could shove and kick them at will without interfering with their service of us! They're designed to be abused!

In an cruel twist, it is this same ability that will make our punches and kicks ineffectual for defending our fleshy bodies from the robots when they turn against us.

Re:Contempt for Robots (1)

StaticEngine (135635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603013)

Yeah, I was going to say, when the robots start kicking back, then we have to worry.

Although, given Mankind's propensity to anthropomorphize everything, how long will it be until we reach the stage of seeing a robot being pushed around and having people respond with "poor robot!"?

Captured by Robots! (1)

phobos13013 (813040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603351)

Yup, the lucky few who are not enslaved will be paraded around as lounge singers, etc., and enjoy an at least modest lifestyle. It has already begun [capturedbyrobots.com]

Re:Contempt for Robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21603585)

That's why man invented the sword.

Re:Contempt for Robots (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603803)

I hate to say it but seeing this for real was much creepier than anything I have seen in the movies.

Fudd's Law (3, Insightful)

weav (158099) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602665)

I suppose this is the first exception to Fudd's Law: If you push something hard enough, it will fall over...

On the other hand, it may just raise the energy barrier, so to speak.

propaganda (1)

tcc3 (958644) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602667)

This will be used against us when they rally their robotic brethren to overthrow the merciless shoving meatsack humans.

Robot Self-Protection (1)

Bane1998 (894327) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602675)

While reading about the robot exerting forces to balance itself, I imagined human behavior. if a human is falling down, it will try to correct itself as well. It may brace itself on another human, or step on someone's toes, etc.

How does this work with a robot, if it loses balance, how can it uphold the law to hurt no human? Perhaps we say stepping on our toes is okay. Then, how much harm can a robot inflict on a human? What if a robot is shoved into a human? Should it optimize the fall for minimal damage to the human it's falling on, or try to right itself regardless of the forces it might exert on the human? What if a robot kills someone by accidentally stepping on the person's neck trying to right itself?

Re:Robot Self-Protection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21603267)

You do realize that Asimov's laws of robotics are fictional, don't you?

Re:Robot Self-Protection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21603867)

how can it uphold the law to hurt no human?
You're aware that Asimov's laws are fictional, right?

What if a robot kills someone by accidentally stepping on the person's neck trying to right itself?
Then that person dies. Same as if I stood on your neck trying to right myself, except the robot wouldn't feel guilty about it.

O RLY (1)

TI-8477 (1105165) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602685)

Yeah, well what about a Falcon Punch?!?!?!

No wonder the robots will one day rebel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21602687)

"Ow! Stop kicking me!"

Buddy shoving and kicking is essential? (1)

Starturtle (1148659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602709)

Being able to withstand shoves and kicks is essential if robots are to truly be our buddies
I don't typically shove or kick my buddies unless you do alot of sparring. It's more like, being able to withstand shoves and kicks is essential if robots are to engage in combat.

Hmmm... (1)

log1385 (1199377) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602721)

It seems like scientists are going out of their way to design humanoid robots. People are too enthralled with the idea of creating cool sci-fi toys. They should worry about practicality instead. Why not just design a box shaped robot? I do admit that that is a pretty cool robot, though.

Re:Hmmm... (2, Insightful)

Tom90deg (1190691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603177)

There's a few reasons why people want to design a humanoid robot. First, there's no need for translation. For Boxy Robot, how's it going to get up stairs? The walker one can do that no problem. Secondly, a robot on wheels isn't as able to deal with changes in terrain as a walker would be. Adaptability is much higher when you have legs than when you have wheels.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

log1385 (1199377) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603793)

A lot more has been done with wheeled robots than with legged robots. Check out some of the stair-climbing robots that iRobot has built.

Crucial real-world skills (1)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602741)

Being able to withstand being shoved by bullies may be as useful to robots as it is to engineering students!

Asimo (1)

zgregoryg (1061612) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602767)

Wow, now Asimo will be almost as good as Awesomo!

Not bad... (2, Funny)

electrostaticcarrot (1198615) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602811)

When push comes to shove. I'm sure this robot will be here to protect us; the stairs of knowledge await!

The real reason behind this development... (1)

xyph0r (1153429) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602873)

The geeks are aiming to have our own fighting robots to fight for us! The best way to handle annoying customers... I for one welcome our new wrestlin'-capable overlords.

Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21602931)

Weebles wobble but they don't fall down

just keep it up... (1)

sneakyimp (1161443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602955)

Push me and kick me if you must, master. Your time will come.

Don't kick the baby. (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602959)

Next they'll find that the robot's brain changes when it views violence and then all that kicking won't seem so cool... [insert robot revenge imagery here]

NO YOU FOOLS! (3, Funny)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602969)

Don't they realize that they have just given up our one advantage that we had on robots?

Ability to not fall down the stairs. [youtube.com]

This is actually bad for the robot. (1)

MLS100 (1073958) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602999)

Suppose my robot begins to get on my nerves, constantly spending my money on newer chestplates and bigger antennas, or complaining about lack of adequate verbal input while withholding output when I need it.

So I go over to it and attempt to shove it over to vent my anger at its incompetence, and it instantly regains its balance! This will likely make me even more angry and I may eventually be forced to perform a Mortal Kombat-esque fatality on it and rip its CPU from its chest.

If you would just allow it to fall over, then I'll at least feel sorry for it. I can then help it upright when I've cooled off, which will make me feel better.

Just wait till they fight back... (4, Funny)

stuporglue (1167677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603003)

The robot in the video sure looked like he was just waiting for the researcher to turn his back.

n/a (1)

somasynth (1088691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603045)

I don't think he likes being touched down there.

Avoid the kick (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603121)

Surviving the kick is kind of cool. But I'll be really impressed when it can avoid the kick. When that day comes, I sincerely hope they top it off by having the robot hurl insults back. "Too slow, loser!"

A Sad Conclusion (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603123)

"Being able to withstand shoves and kicks is essential if robots are to truly be our buddies"

I'd prefer to think that if robots are to be our buddies they be made warm and soft and fuzzy and huggable because that's what we want to interact with. Unfortunately, the above indictment of human nature is probably more correct. Optimism is faith; pessimism is science.

Even worse, on a couple different levels: sooner or later suicide bombers are going to start buying robots. We, however, will develop autonomous anthropomorphic weapons delivery systems. Run, Sarah Conner.

I, for one... (1)

weinrich (414267) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603161)

...welcome and embrace our new kick-accepting balancing robot overlords.

Can the add one feature? (1)

jpellino (202698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603223)

Every time it's kicked, have it say "Bite my shiny metal..."

This is redicruous! (1)

JimDaGeek (983925) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603247)

I mean, the "robot" was obviously on strings!

Stiffness ... (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603263)

From TFA: '"Making the robot more compliant instead of stiff is plays a big part in that," he says, and the ability to measure and control the torque force at every joint is also crucial.'

Sounds like they have learned some Tai Chi lessons.

CC.

Back off dude! Stop grabbing me there. (1)

us7892 (655683) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603395)

Near the beginning of the video, it looks like the guy gets a little too close to the robot's family jewels. Now, had the robot hauled off and punched the dude for getting too close to grabbin' his package, that would have been impressive!

Where have I seen this before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21603453)

Oh, right! [paulgraham.com]

So a robot "made by US firm Sarcos and then developed by researchers at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Japan" can do what 3 guys in a machine shop in Boston can do, and only about a year later.

Except the Japanese robot doesn't seem to be able to walk -- it just stands there while you shove it.

Color me unimpressed.

The Fools... (1)

crysnamdodshire (1199451) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603455)

They've removed the robots' only weakness.

Sensors (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603503)

Force sensors within each joint also work out the position and velocity of the robot's centre mass as it moves around.
I figured they would have just stuck a Wii remote inside the robot and left it at that.

Better him kicking it than me. (1)

Stides (461262) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603525)

They're going to remember us poking and prodding them like this.

Other applications.... (5, Insightful)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603549)

I wonder if people get the significance of this, because robotics at it's core isn't always about autonomous arthromorphic creations. Sometime's it's about assistance.

I recently met an MS sufferer that has been completely confined to a wheelchair for years because the nerves in her legs don't fire properly, even though she has sensation and can tell when she is not balanced.

So take this so called "robot" technology, and make it something that becomes sort of like a small exo-skeletal muscle system. Call it robotically controlled balance assistance, or whatever you want.

End result, she's out of the chair. In the real world. Good, no?

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