Robots on the march to walking like humans

A psychological theory could kickstart improvements in the way robots are able to walk, thanks to a University of Manchester study.

 

The study – a unique collaboration between a clinical psychologist, robotics engineers and a robotics entrepreneur is published in the Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems. It analyzed what happens when standard algorithms driving a self-balancing robot – made from simple Lego – were replaced with those based on ‘perceptual control theory’.

 

The theory was encoded into the little droid, allowing it to control what it sensed so that it moved around more effectively, just as humans and other animals can. Though the robot moves on two wheels, it is an ‘inverted pendulum’, which requires nimble balancing in a similar way to how our bodies are kept upright when we walk. So, the better the robot can balance, the better prepared it will be for walking like a human.

 

In the study, the more lifelike robot balanced more accurately, more promptly and more efficiently than its rivals by assessing its environment at least 100 times a second. It also moved to a new location, even when disturbed by sideways nudges, more effectively than its competitors.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.manchester.ac.uk