Meet MABEL, world's fastest robot with two legs (w/ video)

Meet MABEL, world's fastest robot with two legs (w/ video)

Summary: The world's fastest bipedal robot with knees has a human-like gait and reaches speeds of up to 6.8 miles per hour.

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TOPICS: Emerging Tech
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A two-legged robot at the University of Michigan can run like a human and reach a peak speed of 6.8 miles per hour. MABEL, as the machine is called, is believed to be the world's fastest bipedal robot with knees.

Built in 2008 with funding from the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, MABEL has been in "training" for the last few years.

Researchers have been progressively improving the feedback algorithms that keep the bipedal robot balanced while reacting to its environment in real time.

It's weight is distributed like a person's and it has a heavier torso and light, flexible legs with springs that act like tendons.  Whereas other speed-walking robots achieve a flight phase--when both feet are off the ground--for less than 10 percent of each step, MABEL is in the air for 40 percent of each stride, much like a human.

"We envision some extraordinary potential applications for legged robot research: exoskeletons that enable wheelchair-bound people to walk again or that give rescuers super-human abilities, and powered prosthetic limbs that behave like their biological counterparts," said Jonathan Hurst, now an assistant professor at Oregon State University, who helped create the robot.

The advantage of two-legged robots with good running form would give them an edge over wheeled-bots in rough terrain and inside places built for humans. They could one-day serve as robotic soldiers or rescuers, the engineers say.

"The robotics community has been trying to come up with machines that can go places where humans can go, so a human morphology is important," said Jessy Grizzle, a U-M professor.

In the video below, the bar that MABEL is attached to guides it in a circular path. Also, you'll see it speed up and then abruptly slow down several times on purpose.

(Source)

Topic: Emerging Tech

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16 comments
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  • RE: Meet MABEL, world's fastest robot with two legs (w/ video)

    I wonder why they disabled comments on their video. Why let the public view it, if our feedback scares them?

    Anyway, to me, it looks like if it were not for the support bar, MABEL would have fallen several times.
    rgcustomer@...
    • RE: Meet MABEL, world's fastest robot with two legs (w/ video)

      @rgcustomer@... In the text they did seem to hint they still have some issues to work out with the robot. But this is how the Cylons started out and we all know how that ended.

      But I think we are reaching a stage where we just have to combines lot of these little projects to build a pretty capable Androids.
      But given all those little bits are spread across military, commercial and academic projects the hardest part may actually be getting everyone to hand over there peace of the puzzle.
      Knowles2
    • RE: Meet MABEL, world's fastest robot with two legs (w/ video)

      @rgcustomer@... Agreed. I want to see it without the bar.
      K0DEAN
  • RE: Meet MABEL, world's fastest robot with two legs (w/ video)

    MABEL certainly isn't going to sneak up on anybody with the horrible racket she makes!
    boomchuck1
    • RE: Meet MABEL, world's fastest robot with two legs (w/ video)

      @boomchuck1 And it's a "she" because...?
      SundayDiver
      • RE: Meet MABEL, world's fastest robot with two legs (w/ video)

        @SundayDiver Know many guys named MABEL?
        Paul The Red
    • RE: Meet MABEL, world's fastest robot with two legs (w/ video)

      @boomchuck1 LOL :D
      MrElectrifyer
  • Robotic soldiers, ugh

    Bad enough we have nut cases like the shooter in Arizona and Norway. Just imagine if it were one of those robotic soldiers with defective programming?

    On the other hand, consider an army of robots that all adhered to the 3 Laws of Robotics.
    Dr_Zinj
  • RE: Meet MABEL, world's fastest robot with two legs (w/ video)

    Scary robot stuff. I have a feeling we may have to arm ourselves against ever-more capable robots within our life time. I want to be ready and whenever I see one of those coming my way, be able to destroy it. I advocate a zero tolerance policy for scary robots.
    SundayDiver
  • RE: Meet MABEL, world's fastest robot with two legs (w/ video)

    This might lead to better prosthetics able to stay balanced etc. It would be a little bit funny looking but one of these running around Mars, picking up rock and digging holes would be useful. The "IQ" would have to be increased or we'd probably get a lot of "Look what I can do!" followed by "I'm so lonely." That alone would open up the field of Robot Psychiatry, so you just never know what a dizzy robot is going to lead to.
    trm1945
    • RE: This might lead to better prosthetics able to stay balanced etc.

      @trm1945

      I would suspect that is quite likely the next milestone - a robot that is self supporting while in motion. And, yes, I can fathom a fleet of these things roaming around on Mars, although they would most likely be tied (literally, or by power charge limitations) to some kind of moving power platform.
      fatman65535
  • RE: Meet MABEL, world's fastest robot with two legs (w/ video)

    The addition of powered feet would add a much-needed level of stability and likely increase the achievable speed, too. Imagine a human trying to run without feet. The level of balance required would be much higher and they would never keep up with a human who has feet. I'm really surprised they tried to make this work without them.
    BillDem
    • How would that help?

      @BillDem Humans walk on the heels and balls of their feet and only use them flat to stand.

      Also take a look at birds and how they run, they too use the tarsal tendons as springs to store energy and release it when its needed to power the animal forward against its centre of gravity. We simply 'fall' in the direction we want to move and use the joints in our legs to rotate the torso back to upright so we dont fall over - most of the work of balance is done at the hip and knee.

      Contrast this with humans standing, where pressure is varied over four points, and birds who stand still, like cranes and herons, who have enormous foot spans compared to those who dont.

      I've been studying this for decades, I build tools, robots and autonomous machines in my spare time and I've had a few cracks at a walker - never made one stand and walk yet, but its not so hard to make a wheeler balance on its axles with just one extra component. A rotation sensor thats an analogue of the inner ear, or a bit of it at least.
      SiO2
  • RE: Meet MABEL, world's fastest robot with two legs (w/ video)

    Mabel needs better feet. Very often you can see a foot slide on the matting..
    Jevans47
  • It'll be a bestseller when it recognizes this phrase:

    "Hey MABEL, Black Label!"
    jabster17
  • RE: Meet MABEL, world's fastest robot with two legs (w/ video)

    Getting closer & closer to the Robocop/Skynet years :)
    MrElectrifyer