Technology: Algorithms help robot dogs trot more like real animals - PressFrom - US
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Technology Algorithms help robot dogs trot more like real animals

11:55  29 september  2019
11:55  29 september  2019 Source:   engadget.com

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Robot dogs can move efficiently, but not all that naturally -- and no, twerking doesn't count. Virginia Tech researchers think they can do better. They're developing a combination of algorithms and sensors that help robots move with gaits more like those of real animals .

Meet Spot — a four-legged robotic dog that can climb stairs, trot over rough terrain and even recover from a well-placed Spot's head sensors can apparently be used to help the robot steady itself after sustaining a blow. Robots like Spot and Big Dog are built to travel over uneven terrain, and to be

Robot dogs can move efficiently, but not all that naturally -- and no, twerking doesn't count. Virginia Tech researchers think they can do better. They're developing a combination of algorithms and sensors that help robots move with gaits more like those of real animals. The system mimics the behavior of vertebrates, whose balance control comes largely from oscillating neurons in the spinal cord, using a combination of encoder sensors (to read relative positions for joints) and inertial measurement units (to measure the body's orientation relative to the ground). The result is a mechanical canine that can walk, run and trot with more grace and speed than usual.

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Most animal gaits are dynamically stable, as they tend to be faster and more energy-efficient. An example of a simple dynamically stable gait is the “ trot ” gait. I order for a relatively light robot , like ours, to be statically stable, it has to keep its center of mass somewhere between its legs.

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Cameras and LiDAR are also present to help robots avoid collisions. This doesn't require dramatic changes to the bots themselves, at least. The test units are Ghost Robotics designs augmented with sensors to test the new algorithms.

The initial work has proven fruitful, but there's a lot of work left before you could see this in robots beyond the lab. Assistant professor and key researcher Kavel Hamed also stressed that it wasn't just about making the algorithms more effective -- they also have to be genuinely "bio-inspired." As such, it could be a while before there's a pet robot that moves just as smoothly as the real thing.

Virginia Tech

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