Walking robots: it's all in the hips, say Japan researchers

Oct 22, 2013
Walking robots: it's all in the hips, say Japan researchers

Robot researchers in Japan have proved what entertainers from Elvis Presley to Miley Cyrus knew all along: the secret is in the hips.

But where Elvis "The Pelvis" gyrated his way to 1950s fame and one-time child star Cyrus attained instant Internet notoriety with her recent awards show "twerking", the engineers just wanted to make their robots walk more naturally.

A team of researchers at Waseda University's Humanoid Robotics Institute, near Tokyo, spent hours analysing how the waist was used to give humans their easy gait.

They then tried to mimic this in their creations.

"Most don't have waist motions... so must bend their knees," giving them an awkward and stilted walk, assistant professor Kenji Hashimoto told reporters Tuesday.

The team's Wabian-2 has flexible hips that allow each leg to rotate and mean the robot can walk in a way that closely mimics humans.

"The waist is rolling, and the robot can stretch its knees," he said. The pelvis also twists and moves up and down just as its human counterpart does, he added.

While the Wabian-2 may be some way off grinding its robot booty on stage, it might help researchers learn more about people.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
WABIAN-2RIII walks in place with new shank

"In the case of Wabian-2, we want to mimic the human body," said Hashimoto. "The purpose of developing a is to understand humans."

A humanoid robot "Wabian-2R", developed by Japan's Waseda University professor Atsuo Takanishi walks for a demonstration at Takanishi's laboratory in Tokyo on October 22, 2013

Explore further: European teams demonstrate progress in emergency response robotics since Fukushima disaster

More information: www.takanishi.mech.waseda.ac.jp/top/research/wabian/

Related Stories

WABIAN robot from Japan steps closer to human walk

Jun 02, 2013

(Phys.org) —Researchers designing adult bipedal robots have faced a challenge in limitations in a robot's walking pattern. They seek ways to improve on designs to have robots move more naturally. Improving ...

Humanoid robot that sees and maps

Jul 02, 2013

(Phys.org) —Computer vision algorithms that enable Samsung's latest humanoid robot, Roboray, to build real-time 3D visual maps to move around more efficiently have been developed by researchers from the ...

HRP-4C female robot has a new walk (w/ video)

Nov 13, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Japan's entertaining robot that sings and looks like a beautiful young female is finally learning how to walk just like a beautiful girl—well, almost. Robotics developers at the National ...

Recommended for you

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 ...

Standard knowledge for robots

May 20, 2015

What do you know? There is now a world standard for capturing and conveying the knowledge that robots possess—or, to get philosophical about it, an ontology for automatons.

A folding drone that's ready for takeoff in a snap

May 20, 2015

Thanks to the power of its rotors, this fold-up quadrotor extends its articulated arms and takes off in a fraction of a second. This prototype will be viewed by specialists on May 25 at the International ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (9) Oct 22, 2013
Serge Gracovetsky's "spinal engine" hypothesis is directly relevant to the drama behind humanoid locomotion, for it suggests that major energy efficiency and true dynamism of gait is wrapped up in the motions of the spine itself of which the limbs are mere pendulous accessories and the pelvis ("hips") a wide foundation for.


This work has been used in serious rehabilitation therapy, sports training, and has strong overlap with the Feldenkrais method.

Quote from Bruce Lee: "...you gotta put the whole hip into it....":
1.4 / 5 (10) Oct 22, 2013
I am glad they have solutions for bent knee which makes japanese robot looks senile.
Now all they need to do is make slightly agile side movement and reduce chest depth.
1.4 / 5 (11) Oct 22, 2013
Really? It took this many robotic genius' and billions of $ investment to realise smooth fluid walking is mostly due to hips?

Take someone who has functioning hips and make them walk - lovely

Take someone who has had hip surgery or hip issues and make them walk - rigid and horrible, just like the robots.

I could have saved them a lot of time and money. In fact I thought this information was known already for decades now? Beggars belief really if they didn't realise this decades ago. Unless it's another one of those terribly physorg articles reviewing massively old already known things.
1 / 5 (3) Oct 22, 2013
Muscles (human or otherwise) are not simply affectors that create motion by applying tension between two different bones. They are also organic springs, storing energy from the normal motions of bones relative to one another in response to externally applied forces. Each muscle has its own Hooke's Law spring constant (a measure of strength) and its own resonant frequency. A careful examination of running shows the runner literally bouncing in synchronization with using its legs in alternation to propel itself forward. This is most obvious in animals that do not use an alternate gait but rather a concerted gait, such as squirrels and kangaroos. All parts of the body participate in the motion.

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.