Anyone who has seen the movie iRobot, starring Will Smith, probably thought, at the time, that it will be quite a while before we see bipedal androids walking around on the street. The fact is that we are not too far from it already. The work that DARPA and other robotics manufacturers are currently evolving are mind-blowing. By now, we have all seen their bipedal robots avoid obstacles and even run on treadmills. DARPA now steps up the game by introducing their DURUS robot that is currently learning how to walk exactly like a human being.
Watching the video demo of the DURUS robot walking is an eerie experience. The ankles, knees, and hip are moving strikingly similar to a human being. The way the robot put its feet down on the ground when walking is almost perfectly ported from a human.
As you can see, we are no longer a long way from introducing humanoids into our society. [pullquote]All those science fiction movies that we have all drooled over is fast becoming a reality.[/pullquote] Hopefully, they won’t take over the world and make us all into slaves. That would kind of suck, don’t you think?
DARPA is funding the team, SRI, behind the development of the DURUS robot. Their goal is to make DURUS 20x more efficient than the ATLAS robot. A feat that the team has almost been able to achieve already.
According to the team, the success of the DURUS robot can be entirely attributed to processing power. The CPU is the main component making DURUS walk exactly like a human. In the scientific world, the term for it is human-like heel-toe contacts. To enable a bipedal robot to walk without falling over there are a lot of real-time calculations that have to be done for balance, position, and a whole lot more. That is what the SRI team has mastered better than all other bipedal robot developers.
I think we can expect to see bipedal androids in our society within the next ten years or so. This is how close we are to cracking the incredible secret of us walking on two legs. What do you think? Would you get an android helper once they are available? Let us know in the comment section below.