Students at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena have made an awesome looking bipedal humanoid robot using nothing but Legos! "Pinocchio", as the robot is called, may be suspended from strings, but it can mimic the human gait right down to the swinging leg motion and heel-toe step. It was created to teach the students about robotic walking and programming techniques. This latest creation using a Lego Mindstorms kit demonstrates the versatility of the platform that is slowly shedding its amateur status and producing increasingly impressive devices. Check out Pinnochio in the ultra-brief video below.
We keep running into awesome looking robots built with nothing more than ingenuity and the Lego Mindstorms system. There have been bots that balance on two wheels, function as ATMs, even solve Rubik's cubes. Now, it looks like the platform is even finding good use in academia. Pinnochio is the student project of Marc Heydenreich and Eric Jabor under the direction of Martin Grimmer of the LaufLabor at Uni Jena. The LaufLabor has used Lego for student projects in the past, including a basketball shooting arm by Sebastian Carthusians and a ball kicking leg by Astrid Hartensetin. Both are available to watch on YouTube. All of these Lego projects bring an element of fun to robotics, but they still teach rigorous programming skills. Pinnochio has the two phase gait (swing/stance) that characterizes proper human locomotion.
The Lego Mindstorms platform has been serving as a de facto learning tool for a while now, helping amateur/semi-professional robotics engineers try out new ideas on the cheap. Perhaps with more projects like Pinocchio the system will find a formal place in robotics education. And who knows, with the right advancements and effort the robot may be made to eventually mimic its namesake - cutting its strings and learning to walk on its own.
[image credit: LaufLabor Wiki]
[source: LaufLabor Wiki]