Look out Usain Bolt, walking robots are starting to pick up speed. Boston Dynamics recently released video of their Petman protoype running at 4.4 mph, a little better than the 7 km/h managed by the Toyota robot. This makes Petman one of the fastest walking bots we’ve seen, and it may, in fact, be the fastest bipedal robot in the world for the moment. I knew there was a reason we chose it as one of our favorite bots of 2009. As quick as Petman is, it wants to get even quicker. The robot is being built to mimic human movements so it can test chemically protective suits for the US Army, and it is slated to be ready for work in 2011. Watch Petman walk and run like a human in the following video, and make sure to catch its ground-breaking speed at 0:58.
Boston Dynamics is responsible for some great walking robots, including Big Dog and Little Dog. All of the BD bots, Petman included, have the impressive ability to recover from adverse lateral motions (aka being kicked). Petman also walks heel to toe, wears shoes and has the traditional gait of a human being. Human-like walking is one of the many hurdles in the quest to create humanoid robots, and if Petman can perfect it, it will go down in history as a very influential robot. For now, we’re just excited to see Boston Dynamics break the 7 km/h barrier. They still have a long way to go until they can outpace Bolt (22+ mph), but just give them time. After all, robots never tire.
[screen capture and video credit: Boston Dynamics]
[source: Boston Dynamics]