Dutch robot Flame walks like a human

May 22, 2008
Dutch robot Flame walks like a human
TU Delft is leading in constructing walking robots which are based on the way humans walk. Credit: TU Delft

Researcher Daan Hobbelen of TU Delft has developed a new, highly-advanced walking robot: Flame. This type of research, for which Hobbelen will receive his PhD on Friday 30 May, is important as it provides insight into how people walk. This can in turn help people with walking difficulties through improved diagnoses, training and rehabilitation equipment.

Dutch RoboCup Player
A member of the Dutch RoboCup team, which is to participate in the 2008 RoboCup Soccer competition in China this summer. Credit: TU Delft

If you try to teach a robot to walk, you will discover just how complex an activity it is. Walking robots have been around since the seventies. The applied strategies can roughly be divided into two types.

The first derives from the world of industrial robots, in which everything is fixed in routines, as is the case with factory robots. This approach can, where sufficient time and money are invested, produce excellent results, but there are major restrictions with regard to cost, energy consumption and flexibility.

TU Delft is a pioneer of the other method used for constructing walking robots, based on the way humans walk. This is really very similar to falling forward in a controlled fashion. Adopting this method replaces the cautious, rigid way in which robots walk with the more fluid, energy-efficient movement used by humans.

PhD student Daan Hobbelen has demonstrated for the first time that a robot can be both energy-efficient and highly stable. His breakthrough came in inventing a suitable method for measuring the stability of the way people walk for the first time. This is remarkable, as ‘falling forward’ is traditionally viewed as an unstable movement.

To watch Flame in action click here (WMV, 5.25MB).

Next he built a new robot with which he was able to demonstrate the improved performance: Flame. Flame contains seven motors, an organ of balance and various algorithms which ensure its high level of stability.

For instance, the robot can apply the information provided by its organ of balance to place its feet slightly further apart in order to prevent a potential fall. According to Hobbelen, Flame is the most advanced walking robot in the world, at least in the category of robots which apply the human method of walking as a starting principle.

Dutch robot Flame walks like a human
These springs ensure robot's smooth movement. Image credit: Robolab Delft.

Modelling the walking process allows researchers to construct two-legged robots which walk more naturally. More insight into the walking process can in turn help people with walking difficulties, for example through improved diagnoses, training and rehabilitation equipment. TU Delft is working on this together with motion scientists at VU University Amsterdam.

Hobbelen cites ankles as an example. These joints are a type of spring which can be used to define the best level of elasticity. Research conducted by Hobbelen into Flame’s ankles has provided motion scientists with more insight into this topic.

Source: Delft University of Technology

Explore further: New algorithm lets autonomous robots divvy up assembly tasks

Related Stories

Scientists announce top 10 new species for 2015

2 hours ago

A cartwheeling spider, a bird-like dinosaur and a fish that wriggles around on the sea floor to create a circular nesting site are among the species identified by the SUNY College of Environmental Science ...

UW mapping app turns art into a sharable walking route

May 06, 2015

Creative athletes have been using geographic information systems to transform their running routes into kangaroos, robots and other works of art that they share online, and one romantic cyclist last year even spelled ...

At IDF: Wake up, spiderbot, the wristband said

Apr 10, 2015

There they stood, silent, motionless, a quartet of machine spiders, waiting for their cues, like a dancer troupe waiting for curtains to rise on opening night. At Intel Developer Forum in Shenzhen, China, earlier this week, their "director" was not to disappoint the audience and the show was on. Intel CEO did the directing, p ...

Recommended for you

Researchers develop intelligent handheld robots

22 hours ago

What if handheld tools know what needs to be done and were even able to guide and help inexperienced users to complete jobs that require skill? Researchers at the University of Bristol have developed and ...

Robot walker for elderly people in public spaces

May 22, 2015

Elderly people with walking difficulties are often intimidated by busy public places. This led an EU research project to develop a robot walker to guide them around shopping centres, museums and other public ...

User comments : 7

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

earls
4.5 / 5 (4) May 22, 2008
I believe that orange bot is just a render...

The actually bot is: http://www.scienc...arge.jpg
AdseculaScientiae
4.5 / 5 (2) May 22, 2008
Go Dutchies!

I hope they will do a lot better with this soccer-cup than the humanversion.

I definitely like earls' picture more.
ALMUTHANA
3 / 5 (1) May 23, 2008
I will never belive it except if you gave me one ofem
dandan
4 / 5 (1) May 23, 2008
Wow... thats really the power of technology and inventors brain.... a machine that moves like human could be the best achievement of a man who invented it... job well done to the creator of the robot....

Dan
http://buydiscoun...alls.com
I love Cheap Golf Balls
chads
4.5 / 5 (2) May 23, 2008
If you think that is impressive look at big dog from Boston Dynamics
http://video.goog...=walking robot&hl=en&sitesearch=#
earls
3 / 5 (1) May 23, 2008
Video of the robot.

http://gizmodo.co...-kingdom

With a bonus video of another similar one.

You can definitely see the "falling forward" motion they speak of.
jeroentje
not rated yet Nov 20, 2008
The orange robot is the TUlip humanoid soccer robot from Dutch Robotics.
http://www.dutchrobotics.net
Photos can be found here:
http://site.dutch.../node/70

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.