The following article was published in the Christian Science Monitor
this week. Here is an excerpt and a link to the full article.


Ton van den Bogert, Biomch-L co-moderator


A new step forward for robots. Engineers decode human balance to build
walking robots.

By Jesse Emspak | Correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor/
December 8, 2009 edition

For the past 30 years, scientists and technicians have grappled with
making robots walk on two legs. Humans do it effortlessly, but the
simple act has a lot of hidden complexity. And until recently, computers
were very bad at it.

Now, several teams across the country are refining the first generation
of robots that are close to walking like people. That includes the
ability to recover from stumbles, resist shoves, and navigate rough terrain.

In walks PETMAN, designed by Boston Dynamics in Waltham, Mass. The
two-legged robot saunters with uncanny realism. The android has no upper
body, just steel and plastic legs attached to a system of power cables.
But it walks on its own, using the same heel-to-toe motion that humans
use. When pushed from the side, PETMAN sidesteps to recover its balance.
The robot even wears shoes. more at