Science News

New Biped Robot Could Soon Be Used For Grocery Deliveries

Advances in robotics have made all sorts of artificial intelligence-powered machines possible. The latest to make headlines is Cassie, built by Agility Robotics – a bipedal bot that is designed to mimic how people walk.

Agility Robotics, which came out of the ATRIA project at Oregon State University, focuses on “legged locomotion.” The company hopes to one day make robots that can walk like humans do, which would make them highly useful in many industries, Mashable reports.

Cassie was funded by a 16-month, $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The robot’s custom design was based on animal morphology and behavior, such as a hip joint with three degrees of freedom, and flexible ankle joints like a person has. This allows Cassie to be more stable than previous designs that had heavy motors and proved inefficient.

This “next generation robot” can stand, squat and balance on its own.

According to Cassie’s creators, it can also “take a pretty good fall without breaking.” Most other bipedal robot designs have difficulty walking a straight line, and will fall over at the slightest disruption, researchers say.

Agility Robotics says Cassie and others like it could someday be used to help soldiers in the field, perform search and rescue missions, or even complete simple tasks like make grocery deliveries. Already, there is a Vespa cargo robot that carries out such a job. But unlike Vespa, Cassie’s design will allow it to go where wheeled robots can’t go.

The robot is still a work in progress, but Agility Robotics’ Chief Technology Officer, Jonathan Hurst, says a commercial model will be launched this February. He remains optimistic that these robots could soon be a part of people’s daily lives. Improvements to the existing design include arms and advanced sensor systems that will make Cassie more independent. The team developing the robot also hope to build in a VR-type telepresence that can be controlled via remote.

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