Runbot is a small, biped robot which can move at speeds
of more than three leg lengths per second, slightly slower than the
fastest walking human.
The basic walking steps of Runbot, which has been built
by scientists co-operating across Europe, are controlled by reflex
information received by peripheral sensors on the joints and feet of
the robot, as well as an accelerometer which monitors the pitch of the
These sensors pass data on to local neural loops - the
equivalent of local circuits - which analyse the information and make
adjustments to the gait of the robot in real time.
As the robot takes each step, control circuits ensure that the joints are not overstretched and that the next step begins.
But if the robot encounters an obstacle, or a dramatic
change in the terrain, such as a slope, then the higher level functions
of the robot - the learning circuitries - are used
Runbot walks in a very different way from robots like Asimo, star of the Honda TV adverts, said Prof Woergoetter.
"They are kinematic walkers - they walk step by step and calculate every single angle, every millisecond.
"That can be handled through engineering but it is very
clumsy. No human would walk like that. All these big machines stomp
around like robots - we want our robot to walk like a human."
Article Link (BBC, with video)