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Humanoid Robot Ladder-Climbing

July 28, 2013

The video below shows a (slightly customized) DARwIn-OP robot called Jimmy climbing a ladder.  Its builders at the University of Manitoba‘s Autonomous Agents Lab are preparing for a ladder-climbing event going on at FIRA 2013 Malaysia next month.

In some ways, ladder-climbing is an easier task than walking.  You don’t really need to balance, since you are (or should be) gripping the ladder at at least three points at all times.  However, the whole point of robots, in my view at least, is that they are general machines.  Making a machine that only climbs a ladder isn’t too hard.  Making a machine that climbs a ladder, dukes it out in a ring, does a dance number, maybe does some gymnastics, and plays catch with you — that’s much harder.  A machine that can do many humanlike tasks, while using human tools in a human world, ends up needing humanlike form and capabilities… and that’s what humanoid robotics is all about.

[Via Robots-Dreams and IEEE Spectrum]

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