Oregon State University launches a robot business aimed at bringing ''legged locomotion'' to wide-scale use. Matthew Stock reports.
Meet Cassie - the latest step forward in bi-pedal, walking robots. Developed at Oregon State University, the ostrich-like system can handle complex and uneven terrain. It can steer away from obstacles, and even keep its balance when pushed. The makers say it's a more energy efficient system, that can go anywhere that a human can go. This could be partially useful in search and rescue. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JONATHAN HURST, OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ROBOTICS, SAYING: "Imagine you've got a fire in a building and the fire chief isn't really sure if somebody is still in the building. And they have to make a difficult decision about whether they're going to send one of their firefighters in because it's dangerous. But if you've got a robot that has the same ability as a person then it's a no brainer; you send a robot in." A number of research centres are already working on two-legged robots, most notably Alphabet's Boston Dynamics. Cassie, the makers say, is more robust than others. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JONATHAN HURST, OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ROBOTICS, SAYING: "So a lot of the difference between our machine walking around and a lot of other robots you might see is really under the hood, and you don't notice it until the robot encounters a completely unexpected disturbance and stumbles and recovers, whereas the other machine might never be able to handle that sort of thing." Cassie was built with a one-million dollar grant from the U.S. government. Oregon State spin-off Agility Robotics is now looking to commercialise the system.