MRI: Acquisition of Bipedal Robot Facility to Support Research into Improvement of Orientation and Stability of Locomotion

Project Details


This project, enhancing a humanoid bipedal robot with vestibular and vision sensors, aims at creating Bipedal Robot Facility for research on making robots walk in a dynamically stable, and thus more human fashion. The ability to keep gaze concentrated on a point of interest during continuous bipedal locomotion (when the body might pitch, yaw, or roll in response to uneven terrain) is an automatic function that humans perform rather efficiently. Modeling the fundamental sensorimotor strategies associated with head and body control during walking and turning has led to understanding basic human functions. Bipedal robots are expected to maneuver more efficiently over uneven terrain; however, such terrain is extremely challenging. The next generation of robot vehicles will have to operate in conditions that require gaits that involve dynamic stability; thus, serious consideration needs to be given to dynamically stable motion stabilization. This work utilizes gaze stabilization as a control strategy for a dynamically stable gait, a difficult unsolved problem in robotics. This strategy is supported by recent psychological research. To date even the most advanced legged-robots do not attempt to combine this type of sensory information. The team consisting of two computer scientists and a psychology researcher hypothesizes, based on extensive work in human locomotion, that doing so will have a revolutionary effect on the stability of the robot gait. Mimicking the sensory capability of a wide range of animals-including humans, birds, kangaroos, reptiles like the basilisk-and the way that these animals use this sensory capacity, the project aims at improving the bipedal robot gaits. Moreover, the research will be enhanced by three longer projects:

-Building humanoid robots that can walk quickly over uneven terrain while maintaining stability and performing a human-like gait;

-Understanding human gait; and

-Designing prostheses that can help humans who are otherwise unable to attain a normal gait due to pathologies such as Parkinson's disease.

Broader Impact: Active collaboration with other faculty in CS and neurology at many campuses encourage effective multi-disciplinary and multi-entitity use of the instrumentation. Reaching many students, the robots will be used as demonstration systems in three classes. Moreover, an early High School program for participation for math and science, involving minorities, is in place. OpenPINO, a center of a linux-like open-source user community, and a Web-site encourage dissemination.

Effective start/end date1/08/0531/07/11


  • National Science Foundation: $212,625.00


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