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: A robot dives into search for Malaysian Airlines flight

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mobile robots support airplane manufacturers

Apr 02, 2014

In production facilities, robots, and people will soon be working side-by-side. A new mobile assistant is intended to support technicians in the airplane manufacturing industry when applying sealant, measuring, ...

Robots learning to work with humans

Apr 02, 2014

With the advent of "inherently safe" robots, industrial designers are changing their ideas about the factory of the future. Robots such as ABB's Frida and the Baxter robot from MIT spinoff Rethink Robotics ...

Helping robots learn to walk

Feb 28, 2014

Fully autonomous robots could transform the way we live, but so far such machines remain beyond the reach of our most advanced technologies. Existing robots are generally limited to performing simple, well-structured ...

Recommended for you

A robot dives into search for Malaysian Airlines flight

Apr 18, 2014

In the hunt for signs of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370—which disappeared on March 8 after deviating for unknown reasons from its scheduled flight path—all eyes today turn to a company that got its start ...

Simplicity is key to co-operative robots

Apr 16, 2014

A way of making hundreds—or even thousands—of tiny robots cluster to carry out tasks without using any memory or processing power has been developed by engineers at the University of Sheffield, UK.

Students turn $250 wheelchair into geo-positioning robot

Apr 16, 2014

Talk about your Craigslist finds! A team of student employees at The University of Alabama in Huntsville's Systems Management and Production Center (SMAP) combined inspiration with innovation to make a $250 ...

Using robots to study evolution

Apr 14, 2014

A new paper by OIST's Neural Computation Unit has demonstrated the usefulness of robots in studying evolution. Published in PLOS ONE, Stefan Elfwing, a researcher in Professor Kenji Doya's Unit, has succes ...

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

More news stories

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...