A two-legged robot that walks at record-breaking speed has been developed by researchers from Germany and Scotland.
"RunBot" is the fastest robot on two legs – for its size. At 30 centimetres high, it can walk at a speedy 3.5 leg-lengths per second. This beats the previous record holder – MIT's "Spring Flamingo" – which is four times as tall but manages just 1.4 leg-lengths per second.
The robot is controlled by a simple program that mimics the way neurons control reflexes in humans and other animals. Unlike most other two-legged robots, RunBot has few sensors and can detect just two things – when a foot touches the ground, and when a leg swings forward.
"We wanted to show that a very simple system with a simple neuronal controller could walk in a natural manner – and fast," says Florentin Wörgötter, from the University of Göttingen in Germany, who developed RunBot along with researchers at the University of Glasgow and the University of Stirling, both in Scotland.
Two mpeg videos show RunBot walking at a steady speed and gradually learning to walk more rapidly.