Ask the elderly, toddlers, or the very drunk: walking can be tough. And the times when it is, you need a helping hand to keep you on the straight and narrow. For humans, that might mean a walking stick, but for robots, you can get more creative. The Aerial-Biped, a new robot designed by researchers from the University of Tokyo, uses something much more modern: a quadcopter.
First spotted by IEEE Spectrum, the Aerial-Biped is an interesting experiment in how to make life easier for walking robots. Bipedalism is easy for humans, but a challenge for mechanical friends, requiring, as it does, strength, balance, and an infallible inner-ear.
One way to make walking easier would be obvious to astronauts: just turn down gravity. That way it takes less energy to stay upright, and as a bonus side effect, you take less damage when falling over. The Aerial-Biped effectively reduces gravity for itself by wearing a quadcopter as a hat. That’s how it can stay upright on such relatively spindly legs.
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