Researchers at the SIM Group of TU Darmstadt and the Locomotion Laboratory of Jena University are working on an ambitious new project they hope will display heel-to-toe walking like Boston Dynamics’ PETMAN.
They’re planning to build a series of evolving BioBipeds; musculoskeletal robots that incorporate elasticity to achieve energy efficient standing, walking, and running.
They’ve only built the BioBiped1 so far, but it is already displaying some impressive hopping capabilities (as you’ll see in the following videos). This kind of hopping produces the same sort of stresses as a light jog, so it is a pretty good indication that the robot will be jogging on a treadmill in the future.
Each leg has four joints (hip x2, knee x1, ankle x1) actuated by a combination of both active motors and passive springs based on the muscles and tendons found in a human leg. The springiness of the legs means the robot can passively rebound when it lands on its feet. Eventually a more sophisticated upper-body with arms may be added, and various foot mechanisms will be evaluated. Currently the robot is restricted to moving up and down, but future versions will gradually introduce more freedom until it is able to stand on its own.
Video (one-legged hopping):
More details on the project, including research papers, can be located via the source link.