German team creates robot ape (w/ Video)

Jun 25, 2013 by Bob Yirka report
German team creates robot ape
The four-legged robot in DFKI's artificial crater environment. Credit: Daniel Kühn, DFKI GmbH

( —Researchers at Germany's Research Center for Artificial Intelligence are working on a project they call iStruct—its purpose is to create robots that more closely resemble their natural counterparts. To that end, they have created a robot imitation of an ape—it walks on its back feet and front knuckles. Impressively, the robot ape moves without cables connecting it to something else and is able to walk forwards, backwards and even sideways. It can also turn itself in a new direction.

Robots that imitate real animals (and humans of course) are nothing new; what's new in this effort is the target—an ape. In actuality, it appears to more closely resemble a gorilla than a chimpanzee or other ape. Also new is the approach the team is taking in attempting to replicate the way a real ape moves. Each part of the body is seen as both a single entity and as a part of a larger system. Thus, each body part has been designed to accomplish certain goals as both a single unit and as a part of a larger whole system. The back feet, for example, each have pressure sensors, rather than simple joints. Those sensors provide information to the Control and Information Processing Compartment which relates what the feet are "feeling" to information coming in from other parts of the body.

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The initial result is a robot that has the shape of an ape and walks roughly like one. The team notes that they are only still in the beginning stages of development of the robot. The plan is to refine all of the robot's parts to gradually remove the stilted movements with the smooth transitions seen with real animals. One of those changes will be replacing the current rigid spine with an accentuated . This will allow the robot to twist as it turns, and perhaps, to stand up on two legs and pick fruit from trees at some point in the future.

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The robot ape is part of a larger overall program funded by the Agency of the German Aerospace Center. Still unclear, however, is if the ultimate goal of the program is to create a that can serve aboard a spacecraft, or perhaps one day, even take on the role of pilot instead of the more expensive option—a human astronaut.

Explore further: Researchers use gait primitives from real animals to simulate movement in robots (w/ video)

More information:

via IEEE

5 /5 (27 votes)

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1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 25, 2013
that robot looks cool, i wanna see a human version that doesn't have massive joints or something bulky that just doesn't look human at all
2.6 / 5 (5) Jun 25, 2013
Nice. I see the reference to space exploration. Robotic virtual end points controlled by humans are going to be far more successful at building an off world "colony" than sending humans. When we have a self sufficient colony on the Moon inhabited by virtual end points controlled by humans on Earth, *that* will be permanent and they will build underground spinning habitats that we can then sustain for an indefinite period of time while staying healthy being away from radiation and under normal g-forces.
not rated yet Jun 25, 2013
That head reminds me of Doctor Who's K-9.
1 / 5 (2) Jun 26, 2013
Nice! A drunk monkey!
1.3 / 5 (9) Jun 26, 2013
Nothing to see here.
Still can not beat a wheelbot.
Wheelbots are faster, more stable and have smoother movements.
1 / 5 (5) Jun 26, 2013
This is good progress.
We need virgin territory that we don't have to kill off all the inhabitants to claim.
The only moral way to live in future is to build our own habitats at the laGrange points using sterile material from off-world.
To do this we need sophisticated robots and other machines. I envision a 3d printer shaped in a circle with a 20km diameter, taking material from the moon initially and building a hollow tube with a diameter of 20km and a length of your own desire. Mine would be in the vicinity of 200 kms long, giving me a piece of guilt free real estate of 3 105 126 acres. (Three million one hundred and five thousand one hundred and twenty six acres)
Of cause if you want more, that is up to you. The labour is free, the materials are free and there is plenty of room.
Time to move on.
1 / 5 (6) Jun 27, 2013
Looks like a "Wheeler" (Return to Oz) to me.
not rated yet Jun 29, 2013
Scale it up a hundred times and you have a snow walker ready to invade the rebel base on Hoth

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