Props to the guys over at smart-machines for digging up an awesome video (see below) of the Toyota humanoid robot running at 7 Km/hr (4 mph), besting Asimo’s 6Km/hr. Making humanoid robots that can run and walk was once a formidable challenge for robot engineers, but advances in computing now make the problem of calculating split second compensations for balance less of a headache. Surprisingly, there still aren’t many bipedal humanoid robots that can walk, let alone run. The Asimo robot from Honda and also the upcoming Dexter robot from Anybots are two of the more famous examples, but now Toyota has jumped into the ring in a big way. The Toyota humanoid robot is part of a now multi-year effort by Toyota to create robots that are designed to help humans, aptly called partner robots.
The Asimo robot from Honda has been around for over a decade, so at first the humanoid robot from Toyota might not seem like much of an achievement. Perhaps this is true…but after watching the video you will have to agree its still pretty darn cool. Apparently the Toyota robot can only operate on conventional flat surfaces, whereas the Asimo robot is capable of walking up stairs and handling more diverse situations (except when it falls). But then again the Toyota robot can play the violin, so who is the real champ here? In the end, the best thing is that there are multiple big money players all jumping into the humanoid robot market, and thus the field is rapidly advancing through natural competitive pressure. It surely won’t be long now before Honda or some other company bests this 7 Km/hr achievement. And then of course if we allow the robot to have more than two feet, my money is on the big dog kicking everybody’s butt, humanoid or human.
Surprisingly there is very little information I can find about the Toyota running robot other than the info in this post. If anybody can dig up more videos or information please post it in the comments.