Blind robot that ‘sees’ with its feet!

MIT’s Cheetah 3 robot can now run across rough terrain, climb stairs, overcome obstacles and recover balance, all while essentially blind, scientists say. This is thanks to two new algorithms: a contact detection algorithm, and a model-predictive control algorithm.

The 40 kilogramme mechanical beast – about the size of a full-grown Labrador – is intentionally designed to do all this without relying on cameras or any external environmental sensors.

Instead, it nimbly “feels” its way through its surroundings in a way that engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US describe as “blind locomotion,” much like making one’s way across a pitch-black room.

“There are many unexpected behaviours the robot should be able to handle without relying too much on vision,” said the robot’s designer, Sangbae Kim, an associate professor at MIT.

In few years, Kim envisions the robot carrying out tasks that would be too dangerous or inaccessible for humans.PTI

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