No Big Deal, Just a Robot Walking Around Campus

Of course, he's in a harness and trailing batteries, but still. 

Here we see MARLO, a robot, walking at the University of Michigan.  

First he walks inside, then he moves outside, though still supported by a safety harness and trailing batteries.

The robot is a creation of engineering professor Jessy Grizzle at the University of Michigan and his colleagues, who have been making steady progress on walking robots for nearly a decade. 

MARLO is the third-generation bipedal robot of this type. The first was a Franco-German walking bot named Rabbit, which was retired in 2005. It reminds me of the bottom of a satyr.

The second was named MABEL. MABEL could run at a nine-minute mile pace, but only on a circular track. 

And now we have MARLO, which is the first of these walking bots to attempt to move in 3D space, without being attached to lateral support.

It's not an easy task: Just ask any toddler. 

MARLO's video debuted on a day when the New York Times' John Markoff revealed that Google has quietly purchased seven robotics companies in their own efforts to reinvent the humanoid robot.

Among the companies are Schaft, a small team of Japanese roboticists who recently left Tokyo University to develop a humanoid robot, and Industrial Perception, a start-up here that has developed computer vision systems and robot arms for loading and unloading trucks. Also acquired were Meka and Redwood Robotics, makers of humanoid robots and robot arms in San Francisco, and Bot & Dolly, a maker of robotic camera systems that were recently used to create special effects in the movie “Gravity.” A related firm, Autofuss, which focuses on advertising and design, and Holomni, a small design firm that makes high-tech wheels, were acquired as well.

The effort is being led by Andy Rubin, a former robotocist who led the Android team. 

Humanoid robots have been an area of fascination for researchers since long before we could actually build them. And even though few people use or encounter bots like Honda's ASIMO or MARLO, we've come a long way since Westinghouse's animatronic ELEKTRO "motoman" from the 1937 World's Fair.

 

 

Presented by

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Technology

Just In