by Staff Writers
Tokyo (UPI) Dec 22, 2010
Robots have been made to run, jump and even dance, but they might be more useful if they could walk like a senior citizen, Japanese researchers say.
Scientists at Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have developed a robot that leans on objects in its environment to support itself as it moves around and completes tasks, NewScientist.com reported Wednesday.
"Roboticists usually just see objects as obstacles to be avoided," the institute's Sebastien Lengagne says. "But they can help us."
Lengagne and his colleagues are developing humanoid robots capable of using their entire bodies and any surrounding objects to move around cluttered environments and complete complex balancing tasks without getting stuck or falling over.
"If I ask you to look below your desktop, you will put your hand on the desktop for support," Lengagne says. "But most methods will try to get the robot to do the task without touching the desktop."
The robot, HRP-2, acts more like a human, placing both arms on a table to maintain its balance when trying to sit down in a chair or using one arm for support when taking a big swinging kick at a ball, the researchers say.
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