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: Virtual robotization for human limbs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Pleurobot is salamander-like robot with lifelike motion

Mar 04, 2015

A video showing "multimodal locomotion in a bioinspired robot" has been making the rounds, and the video demonstrates advances in robotics as scientific tools as well as potential robots for search and rescue ...

The first space walk happened 50 years ago, and nearly ended in disaster

Mar 18, 2015

It is 50 years since humans first encountered space – not Sputnik's first orbit, nor Yuri Gagarin's first spaceflight – but the first time a crew member stepped out from their spacecraft's relative protection and immersed themselves in the cold, hostile emptiness of the vacuum. ...

Recommended for you

Virtual robotization for human limbs

5 hours ago

Recent advances in computer gaming technology allow for an increasingly immersive gaming experience. Gesture input devices, for example, synchronise a player's actions with the character on the screen. Entertainment ...

Robots on reins could be the 'eyes' of firefighters

Mar 25, 2015

Researchers at King's College London have developed revolutionary reins that enable robots to act like guide dogs, which could enable that firefighters moving through smoke-filled buildings could save vital ...

Robot revolution will change world of work

Mar 24, 2015

Robots will fundamentally change the shape of the workforce in the next decade but many industries will still need a human touch, a QUT Future of Work Conference has heard.

Sawyer is a new face in collaborative robots

Mar 23, 2015

Sawyer is a new collaborative robot (robots that work with employees) from Boston, Massachusetts-based Rethink Robotics. In human terms, the salient feature about this robot is its friendly eyes on its "face" ...

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.