Elmer G. Gilbert Distinguished University Professor
Jerry W. and Carol L. Levin Professor of Engineering
Director of Robotics
University of Michigan
Electrical & Computer Engineering
1301 Beal Ave. (3215 EECS Bldg.)
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Tel: (734) 763-3598
Fax: (734) 763-8041
Special Features: [Questions by Christine Harbig on June 26, 2007 led me to write up some of the key points of this new machine.] What is the main difference of the new robot when compared to other robots like ASIMO or QRIO? Is it the ability to be able to walk on uneven terrains or mainly a more efficient way of moving? What will be the real step forward in robot technology?
There are at least three differences:
Our project is very science oriented and very public. This is typical of work funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the US. We are really challenged to push the boundaries of learning.
Back to your question: Is it the ability to be able to walk on different uneven terrains or mainly a more efficient way of moving (smoother movement)? I tried to make out the real step forward in robot technology but I�m not sure about it. The advanced feedback control algorithms and the advanced machine design using springs in the powertrain SHOULD YIELD smoother, more compliant, more energy efficient locomotion. The robot should be able to walk more easily on rough terrain. I say **should** because if we were 100% certain, why build the machine and evaluate the algorithms? There is a very real possibility that we fail.
Noted added on May 24, 2010: It looks like the ability to walk on an uneven surface is now a certainty and not a conjecture! See [YouTube Video, First Attempt at Walking over Rough Ground]. Fast walking has been achieved (we held the speed record from October 29, 2009 through April 2010, and then lost it to PetMan).[YouTube Video, Go MABEL Go!]. High efficiency has been demonstrated; see the efficiency table in the experiment section this paper.