When robots one day move to enslave humanity, they will not do so with the stiff gait of a Terminator or RoboCop, but with the swagger of Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb rocking it out to the song "Stayin' Alive."
Such an amusing scenario for the end of the world can be inferred from watching the gait of DURUS, the most efficient humanoid in terms of walking ever created. The brainchild of engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, DURUS is distinctive because of its upright posture (similar walking robots are often hunched) and multi-contact foot.
"Our robot is able to take much longer, faster steps than its flat-footed counterparts because it's replicating human locomotion," Aaron Ames, director of the Georgia Tech lab AMBER Lab that created DURUS, said in a statement. "Multi-contact foot behavior also allows it to be more dynamic, pushing us closer to our goal of allowing the robot to walk outside in the real world."
DURUS's natural gait has also translated into huge energy conservation gains, with the humanoid able to walk for more than five hours on battery power alone.
According to Ames, the next advancements for the team will be to build a robot that can run like a human, climb up and down steps, and get back up when knocked over. They see their technology one day operating in disaster scenarios, space expeditions, and advancing the development of robotic assistive devices like prostheses and exoskeletons.
“What drives me a lot is the cool factor to be honest, but that’s my professor hat,” Ames told the Washington Post. “There’s a lot of really important applications.”