Robots Learn How to Sprint, Still Can't Outrun Humans

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Photo: University of Michigan
Here at GeekTech, we have a slightly compulsive habit of reminding you that robots could one day render us humans obsolete. Now, we're a long way from that actually happening, but on the off chance that robots do eventually begin to turn on their masters, rest assured that at least currently we'd possibly be able to outrun them. However, a running robot is still quite a scary (and noisy!) sight to behold: enter MABEL.

MABEL, created by DARPA and a team of Ph.D students at the University of Michigan, has been programmed to sprint at varying speeds in the same way a human moves its limbs--it even has hips! MABEL can run at an average speed of only about 4.4 miles per hout, with a top speed of 6.8mph. But what really makes the bot interesting is its suspension time in the air. According to the University of Michigan, the robot is in the air for a third of the duration of the step, and is three to four inches of the ground.

Maybe, like people, MABEL could run faster if it had been blessed with a slightly lighter body--it currently weighs 65 kilograms (around 143 pounds). Fortunately, the rigid spring system inside prevents the robot from taking damage upon landing.

It's a pretty interesting dissertation with some pretty cool results. Check out the video below (you might want to turn your speakers down), or find out more in the video's YouTube page.

[YouTube via Gizmodo]

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