This Ostrich Robot Can Run On Two Legs


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer



Sure, it looks a bit weird, but this robot is also incredibly cool. Designed by the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) in Pensacola, Florida, it's able to run and balance itself on two legs.

It’s called the Planar Elliptical Runner, and it balances not by using sensors or gyroscopes, but from the motion of its legs, applying different amounts of pressure to keep itself steady. IMHC said in a video it was “the world’s first segmented leg biped running robot that balances itself not by feedback, but by its stable geometry.”


“If the leg meets resistance it keeps putting more power in to match that resistance and overcome it,” they added, “and it also puts power into the swinging leg to adjust the trajectory.”

It’s able to run about 19 kilometers per hour (12 miles per hour) on a treadmill, but is unable to turn or run without stabilizing glass barriers at the moment. However, the fact that it can prevent itself falling forwards or backwards while traveling at high speed is pretty impressive.

In the video above and below, the team show how it’s able to run on a treadmill, then take it outside to run behind a car. The team said this showed their next creation would be able to run by itself more freely.

We’ve seen robots with legs before, notably from Boston Dynamics. But it seems there is growing interest in creating robots like these.


“Robots with legs will be particularly useful in places where you want a human presence, but it's too dangerous, expensive, or remote to send a real human,” Jerry Pratt from IHMC, who led the team on this robot, told MIT Technology Review. “Examples include nuclear power plant decommissioning and planetary exploration. These are very small, niche, markets, though.”

At the very least, it looks pretty awesome. Here's to the future.

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