Robot Ranger sets new 'walking' record at 14.3 miles

Jul 20, 2010
Robot Ranger sets 'walking' record at 14.3 miles
The robot Ranger, which set an untethered walking record in Barton Hall.

( -- A Cornell robot named Ranger has traveled 14.3 miles in about 11 hours, setting an unofficial world record at Cornell's Barton Hall on the morning of July 6. A human -- armed with nothing more than a standard toy remote control -- steered the untethered robot.

Ranger navigated 108.5 times around the Barton Hall indoor track -- about 212 meters per lap -- and made about 70,000 steps before it had to stop and recharge. The 14.3-mile record beats the former world record set by Boston Dynamics' BigDog, which had claimed the record at 12.8 miles.

A group of engineering students led by Andy Ruina, Cornell professor of theoretical and applied mechanics, announced the robotic record July 9 at the Dynamic Walking 2010 meeting in Cambridge, Mass. Ruina leads the Biorobotics and Locomotion Laboratory at Cornell. The research is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Previously, students in Ruina's lab set a record for a walking untethered in April 2008, when Ranger strode about 5.6 miles around the Barton Hall track. Boston Dynamics' BigDog subsequently beat that record.

One goal for robotic research is to show off the machine's . Unlike other walking robots that use motors to control every movement, the Ranger appears more relaxed and in a way emulates human walking, using gravity and momentum to help swing its legs forward.

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Previous attempts. The Cornell Ranger robot just kept going and going April 3, 2008, when it set an unofficial world record by walking nonstop for 45 laps -- a little over 9 kilometers or 5.6 miles -- around the Barton Hall running track.

Standing still, the robot looks a bit like a tall sawhorse, and its gait suggests a human on crutches, alternately swinging forward two outside legs and then two inside ones. There are no knees, but its feet can be flipped up and out of the way while it swings its legs so that the can finish its step.

Ruina says that this record not only advances robotics, but helps undergraduate students learn about the mechanics of walking. The information could be applied to rehabilitation, prosthetics for humans and improving athletic performance.

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User comments : 10

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1 / 5 (3) Jul 20, 2010
and then what? RC operatior got to boooored or batteries ran low? crap, not a achievement.
Jul 20, 2010
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5 / 5 (2) Jul 20, 2010
BigDog would kick it's ass!
not rated yet Jul 20, 2010
People, this is an experiment based on size. If you wanted to make a 45 ton version of this that can crush small cities under it's metal hooves you could, but the point is that it's the minimal environmental expenditure towards the maximum mechanical efficiency.
4.5 / 5 (2) Jul 21, 2010
I don't see this walking up hills and navigating rough terrain. The article makes efficiency comparisons to big dog. Yeah, the two are apples and oranges, but the big dog can navigate almost any terrain, including ice. It has practical applications. This guy, while a cool technology demonstrator and a very nice school project, doesn't look like it can travel on gravel, let alone rocky inclined surfaces. But still, it's nice for learning something about how we walk.
not rated yet Jul 21, 2010
I suppose this is a "proof of concept" test....walking on a flat surface is only meaningful if it is the first stage of testing in increasingly complex terrain.
Jul 21, 2010
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not rated yet Jul 21, 2010
Why is it an 'unofficial world record'? Is there some official robotics authority keeping tabs of records?

1 / 5 (1) Jul 21, 2010
Big Dog could certainly clean this robot's clock! But as small as this one is, why not attach a small solar panel that would trickle-charge the batteries on the go? Then it could set a REAL record for distance walking.
not rated yet Jul 21, 2010
THere are plenty of good places where it is relatively flat and this is emmensely useful such as plains of the moon.

Robotics is getting to be awesome -- the closer we approach human dexterity of hands -- plus locomotion the less expensive exploration missions become because most of the cost involved goes towards human safety and concerns, such as the need for food, air, sanitation, comfort and most of all training. Eliminating these costs and sending human remote controlled robots to build out structures, and manufacture energy generating devices before we send a human is awesome.

On the dark side almost 1000 factory workers will be replaced by 10 electrical engineers and an army of Johnny 5's.
not rated yet Jul 21, 2010
Read the article and the point of the experiment before you go off claiming "I saw these transforming cars last summer that could clean this things clock, totally!"
5 / 5 (44) Jul 25, 2010
Why is it an 'unofficial world record'? Is there some official robotics authority keeping tabs of records?

No, they just can't ignore that the Japanese are light years ahead in this area.

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