Cassie: Robot could aid search and rescue work and save lives
Researchers hope to perfect the design so the robot can enter dangerous situations and save firefighters from risking their lives.
Researchers have been putting a new robot through rounds of demanding tests to get it ready to help search and rescue efforts.
Named after the flightless cassowary bird, Cassie is a bipedal robot weighing 66lbs (29.94kg) and standing a little over a metre tall (3.25ft) at full leg extension.
The robot was built by Agility Robotics based in Oregon and purchased by University of Michigan (UoM) researchers using grant money from the National Science Foundation and Toyota Research Institute.
Cassie is a breakthrough technology according to Jessy Grizzle, the director of Michigan Robotics, who said: "This stuff makes our old math look like child's p l ay."
Jonathan Hurst, an associate professor of robotics at Oregon State University (OSU), said: "This technology will simply explode at some point, when we create vehicles so automated and robots so efficient that deliveries and shipments are almost free.""Quite simply, robots with legs can go a lot of places that wheels cannot," said Mr Hurst, who is also the chief technology officer at Agility Robotics.
"This will be the key to deliveries that can be made 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by a fleet of autonomous vans that pull up to your curb, and an on board robot that delivers to your doorstep."
The end goal is to perfect Cassie's design so the robot could enter dangerous situations and save firefighters from risking their lives.
Search-and-rescue "is a hard problem and serves as a template for 'unsolved problems in robotics,' which is one of the reasons you see it pop up so much when robotics companies talk about applications," said Damion Shelton.
Mr Shelton, who is the CEO of Agility Robotics, said it is "difficult to even speculate" when a robot could be used for such a purpose.