Quadruped Robot Can Crawl Under Cars and Jump-Kick-Open Doors

The wheel is a revolutionary invention — as they say — but going back to basics sometimes opens new pathways. Robots that traverse terrain on legs are on the rise, most notably the Boston Dynamics Big Dog series of robots — and [Ghost Robotics]’ Minitaur quadruped aims to keep pace.

One of [Ghost Robotics] founders, [Gavin Knneally] states that co-ordination is one of the main problems to overcome when developing quadruped robots; being designed to clamber across especially harsh terrain, Minitaur’s staccato steps carry it up steep hills, stairs, across ice, and more. Its legs also allow it to adjust its height — the video shows it trot up to a car, hunker down, then begin to waddle underneath with ease.

[Ghost Robotics] aim to build ‘bots in the micro-medium robot range, as small as eight inches. The robots are planned as sensor platforms with the military as a primary market, and search and rescue shortly thereafter. A robot that can climb stairs and jump-kicking open office doors would be useful indeed.

It’s not just big and little companies making these robots — we’ve been featuring maker-made quadruped ‘bots and companions for a while now — check ’em out!

[Via Popular Science]

31 thoughts on “Quadruped Robot Can Crawl Under Cars and Jump-Kick-Open Doors

  1. Sooo, where’s the demo of it opening doors?
    Everybody is bragging about how it can open doors but no one is showing it. I can’t see a 13lb bot forcing an office door. If it just hits the push bar or lever, all you have to do is install a traditional door knob.
    There’s a ton of hype surrounding legged bots. and how they’re gonna solve all the exploration problems but so far they seem about as energy efficient as a multi-copter. Sure the rovers get bogged down in fine silt and use rocker-bogie suspension but how well is a tiny footed robot going to fare better?
    Don’t get me wrong this robot is impressive, but for their mission parameters I don’t see it replacing wheeled or tracked vehicles.

    1. It can open doors by sitting in front of it and looking at you with an occasional miaouw and scratching at it.
      If that doesn’t work it can turn around and damage things in the area until the door is opened.

  2. A huge gif (10.5 MByte) and an very nice 3 minute video. Nicely wrapped by a whopping 12 lines of text, wow, what an article. And in case somebody overlooked the page filling bandwidth dropping 10.5MBytes gif, one of those 12 lines of text is explaining the gif in detail… “— the video shows it trot up to a car, hunker down, then begin to waddle underneath with ease.” ehmmm… how could we have missed it?

    At first I thought the sticker article was then april fools joke, then came the hotdog based probe, so that one must be it… but now I get it, it’s this article that is the real joke.

    Sorry… my expectations were a little too high because of the other well written articles of the previous days… my bad.
    Although the robots are awesome.

    1. 10MB is nothing for a gif, and gifs can be disabled if you want to avoid them.

      Reminds me of that thing in the news a while back about that guy being arrested for sending a flashing gif to an epileptic twitter user. Sure it’s nasty but if you can’t handle flashing – and can even die from it – take some goddamn precaution on your system I say.

  3. One thing it won’t do is sneak up on anyone. It’s action is very fast and noisy…why can’t it ramp up actions to dampen noise? The clacking gate sucks. It’s using motors not pneunatics, or are they solinoids?

    1. It’s constantly tap tap tapping most likely because the motors would overheat by trying to maintain static forces. The stall current would be too much, so it has to keep them moving.

      The second reason is the simplicity of the balancing algorithm. It keeps two corners on the ground, and alternates crosswise so it’s like a seesaw pivoting one way or the other, and the algorithm keeps bouncing back and forth as it it was tossing a hot rock between two hands.

      That means it’s not actually going straight forwards but falling over to the left, right, left, right… in a zig-zag way as it staggers onwards. Much less computational load than trying to figure out how to step in a deliberate way – just plant the corners on the ground and let it fall over, then catch the fall and repeat the same in the other direction. If you do that fast enough, it looks steady.

    1. yes,
      “Starting at USD 11,500, our base platform includes a fully assembled and functional Ghost Minitaur robot, battery, onboard RasPi v3 computer, ROS programmable software stack with basic gaits, joystick control, documentation and support package.”

      1. Oh, they are a hardware company! Presumably carefully built, but a legged platform with ROS is not a robot. This is not marketable to anybody except universities. Their demonstration shows gaits and remote control. If they don’t have a terrain mapping and route planning this is just a vehicle. iRobot makes tracked vehicles of similar size that have at least similar capabilities, including jumping and are more rugged than a legged robot. Their other idea of using them a sensor platforms is more suitable in my opinion and makes a lot more sense. Semi autonomy could be achieved with offloading processing to a stationary server, which ROS is well suited for. I suspect the advertised military application is just something they’ve included to secure funding. Sad that science in the US depends on developing tools to kill people. I hope they are just pulling their noses.

    1. What I want is something that can change the oil filter. It’s easy to just pump the oil out through the dipstick as done with marine engines.

      I do see two wonderful applications for this. Chasing cats, and handing out Halloween candy.

  4. Cheesy goddam music on every frikkin video. All I care it so hear the original without the sadness of editing a tune on top of it. Now, I am forced to turn sound off.

    Sometimes the internet is just full of shit tacked on top of the interesting stuff.

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