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Robot Locomotion: Bipedal or not?

The author of this article clearly chooses a side, stating an opinion on future robots’ means of locomotion.

Quote: “Our impression of what a robot is has been tainted by science fiction and popular culture. The term ‘robot’ was first used in 1920 by Karel and Josef Čapek in a play called R.U.R. to describe an artificial automaton. Since then, our narcissistic desires have seen the word become synonymous with humanoid robots, or androids. We like to think that we’re the dominant creatures on the planet, so mobile robots should look like us. But the fact is, they shouldn’t. We can’t fly, we’re not very good swimmers, we can’t live in a vacuum and if we want to travel more than a mile, most of us will get on some type of wheeled vehicles. Bipedal locomotion has served us well but it is limited and requires a huge amount of brain power and years of learning to perfect. The computer versions of our brain are nowhere near our level and are unlikely to be so for decades to come. After nearly 100 years of development, our most advanced humanoid robots can only just open a door without falling over (too often).”

So channel your inner Nostradamus; get out your dowsing rod, crystal ball & tarot cards; and share with us your predictions for the future: will future robots walk around on two legs? four legs? six or eight legs? Will they fly? Will they roll on wheels? Will they swim, jump, or drive? Is a flagellum involved? Will they leave behind a slime trace in their wake? Will they hover? Is it all of the above? None of the above?

How do you think robots of the future will locomote?

If you could choose any means of locomotion for your personal companion robot, which would you choose and why?

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I feel like a flying drone, but with personality would be pretty rad. It would be easier for it to follow me around and it wouldn’t have to be complex in the way it traverses tough terrain, etc. Just need to increase the battery life on them—by a lot—at least by double but probably triple.

@cdurham, @sltroum, @saranbabu, @hanfeiid, @headlessandroid, @we4reeves, @RoboMaster6000 I’m pulling you guys into this one since you’ve been quietly lurking thus far. I’d love your perspectives!

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Trying to predict the ONE mode of locomotion that rules them all seems a bit silly. IMO robots will come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and will utilize all forms of locomotion. The reality is that for robots that have to interact with human made environments it will probably help if they are somewhat similar to us since we’ve designed our world for us and thus it will be easier for them to operate with similar constraints.

But obviously there will be robots that are specialized for other functions and environments that will use different locomotion methods. Flying is cool and gets you over most terrain but it also increases cost, complexity and power consumption significantly.

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Totally agree. Robotics is engineering imitating life. In life, we can observe many forms of locomotion, all dependent upon the needs of the organism, and it revolves around energy all the same.

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I’m not thinking of bipedal in a traditional sense, but maybe a robot that can use its arms to handstand over obstacles and hopefully up/down stairs could work? Maybe some combination between Roller Bob from Toy Story and 1-X from Futurama. http://pixar.wikia.com/wiki/Roller_Bob and http://futurama.wikia.com/wiki/Robot_1-X

I’m a fan of Parrot’s innovative solution with the Jumping Sumo, but with all the tech on Misty, I don’t think bouncing around would be a good idea.