The Fastest Human-Like Robot Has Creepy Knees and a 9-Minute Mile

By Veronique Greenwood | August 17, 2011 4:32 pm

MABEL here is a fast lady. At 6.8 miles per hour, she’s the quickest human-like runner in the robot world. She is also the owner of some of the freakiest knees, right up there with Dr. Seuss’s ominous pale green pants and the spider-like prancings of BigDog, the defense robot you hope you never meet coming through the woods at night.

Running robots could transport baggage and participate in rescue operations where rugged terrain makes wheeled vehicles useless, which is why DARPA funds projects like the quadruped BigDog, which is already fairly well developed and has a top speed of about 5 mph. MABEL is a biped bot, which means she’s probably less stable than a quadruped, but more able to potentially stand in for humans in activities like climbing stairs (and certainly a more useful instance of human biomimicry than some robots we could name). Watching her strut her stuff around a little indoor track in the video above, you’ll notice the springing motion of her legs, which is very similar to a human running–both spend about 40% of their time in the air, according to her builders, a team of roboticists at University of Michigan.

Ooo, ahh, and pity the lab downstairs.

[via Kurzweil AI]

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
  • Ted Stern

    The knees look fairly ordinary.

    What’s creepy is that it looks like its feet have been amputated and it’s running around on the stumps.

  • Chris

    Next to appear on Dancing with the Stars!

  • I

    So this robot will potentially stand in for humans in activities where a boom for lateral stabilization is available? Cool.

  • charles

    I could hear this thing coming a mile away. Unless the plan is to defeat America’s future invented enemies by KEEPING THEM AWAKE.

  • yanom

    running legs around poles… for SCIENCE!

  • http://twitter.com/#!/JCHamner JC Hamner

    I think “Runs Free” is somewhat of an overstatement, guys.
    So the best minds in robotics aren’t working for DARPA. That’s somewhat heartening.

  • http://albanyrunner.blogspot.com Kathleen Lisson

    And when retired from government service, the robot could be the nine minute mile pace runner for a marathon?

  • Petit

    Not in my household :D

  • Anonymous

    its the fastest human like robot attached to a bar! take that thing off and wham flat on the floor! there are plenty of running robots that are not attached yeah they may be slower but they stand on their own. Also if you want the fastest rabbit alive I can sell you one attached to a rocket.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Wells/100003203103200 Christopher Wells

    A lot of good this thing is going to do when it has to be “stabilized” by a lateral bar that keeps it from falling over, if we ever need a robot that runs around in a perfect circle, we’ve got one by gosh!

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