Ostrich Robot Machine-Learns Itself To 5K

Ever since humanity has grasped the idea of a robot, we’ve wanted to imagine them into walking humanoid form. But making a robot walk like a human is not an easy task, and even the best of them end up with the somewhat shuffling gait of a Honda Asimo rather than the graceful poise of a balerina. Only in recent years have walking robots appeared to come of age, and then not by mimicking the human gait but something more akin to a bird.

We’ve seen it in the Boston Dynamics models, and also now in a self-balancing two-legged robot developed at Oregon State University that has demonstrated its abilities by completing an unaided 5 km run having used its machine learning skills to teach itself to run from scratch. It’s believed to be the first time a robot has achieved such a feat without first being programmed for the specific task.

The university’s PR piece envisages a time in which walking robots of this type have become commonplace, and when humans interact with them on a daily basis. We can certainly see that they could perform a huge number of autonomous outdoor tasks that perhaps a wheeled robot might find to be difficult, so maybe they have a bright future. Decide for yourself, after watching the video below the break.

43 thoughts on “Ostrich Robot Machine-Learns Itself To 5K

    1. no doubt it will soon. And then jump. And then be able to do it while dealing with the recoil of a machine gun. And operate in swarms. And work together with drones. And one day one group will hack the control of such a swarm, and turn it against civilians or the entity operating the swarm.

      I know, It´s a bit off-topic and for sure there are a tons of civilian uses for such technology, even kawai, playful ones. But it would be … burying the head in the sand… to ignore military use of such tech.

      While not yet AI-enabled, independant drones moving in swarm, pre-programmed swarms are trained by armies worldwide and first -apparently only,- have been used in the “battlefield”:
      https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-apparent-world-first-idf-deployed-drone-swarms-in-gaza-fighting/

      We´re able to regulate somehow nuclear weapons technology, but the resources needed to build and deploy drone swarms and autonomous weaponized robots are far lower and democratize at fast speed. And much less noticeable than nuclear power plants.

      So, what will we civilians do and when will be start to regulate weaponized, autonomous robots ? How long will we continue to play the ostrich ?

        1. What does “take the decision to fire on live targets” mean? Take from whom?
          Guided missiles have been around for a long time now, including guided missiles which can find their target where there are EM countermeasures (i.e. outside control is jammed).

  1. OSU student here. Why am I always off campus when they’re testing these? :(
    On the bright side, anyone from the public can walk in and look at the lab where Cassie was originally developed. They still have a prototype there, along with some other neat robots.

  2. “The university’s PR piece envisages a time in which walking robots of this type have become commonplace, and when humans interact with them on a daily basis. ”

    I’ Robot covered this when the robot runs for the woman’s inhaler.

  3. Well there is only one plantigrade bipedal species but lots of digitigrade bipedal species on the planet, maybe digitigrade is the way to go with robots. Anyway it’s interesting. Here’s another video I think relates to this one.

    1. Legs are better than wheels everywhere except on a prepared flat surface. There are no wheels in nature because nature didn’t see fit to create the paved road until pretty recently.

      1. Whenever you state a broad generality you are almost certainly wrong… there are plenty of places that legs are ill suited that are unprepared terrain where wheels can do better than legs.

        1. …. and the examples are? And before you suggest mountain biking, do note that this is generally not on unprepared terrain but on use hardened paths. As an aside I’ve always wondered why it’s actually called mountain biking. In addition, I wonder whether you have ever tried pushing a wheelchair in the countryside? Even on a footpath.

  4. at around 1:05 there was some text indicating the robots could do warehousing and running errands to enable humans to lead more productive lives at home and work.

    That statement I would suspect was written by someone that hasn’t lived for more than 1/4 of a century and is yet to have a job.

    I can see them rejoicing at been constrained to their cubicle because there is no need to leave their seat any more – keep codeing boy I own you for 8 hours a day and now there is no need for you to leave your desk to meander around the office to collect some stuff from the other side.

    heres another product to repair your mechanical assistant will take it to the mail room – dont let the idea of doing something other than your primary objective get you excited.

    All the while all the people that used to work at Amazon are sitting at home in front of the TV growing larger by the minute because they dont even need to go to fridge for another Twinky (or where ever you are supposed to keep them, whatever they are) Im getting a vision of the humans aboard the spaceship in WALL E. just lumps of lard with NO meaningful purpose because the robot servant takes care of all the “meaningless” tasks.

    Probably a greater threat than a swarm of angry drones from a hostile state…..

  5. Very impressive that it taught itself to run using reinforcement learning. Goes to show overcoming the reality gap is possible (can’t imagine it was all done live).

    Wonder what they were optimizing? I mean, what was it running to? It has no beak so would not have been a nice big pile of seed.

    It’s good to see Cassie migrating from programmatically controlled movements to AI based. And despite not having any competitors running along side it, certainly winning a race of sorts by going for an AI run, well before many other contenders have turned up. Awesome work!

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