The first robot to reliably walk like a human will probably look like an ostrich 

Getting a bipedal robot to not fall on its face, much less walk, is a feat that no one has mastered. Roboticists are getting there, though.

A new robot called Cassie from Agility Robotics is a highly evolved biped, meant to escape the lab and scramble into the market, walking and balancing seemingly with ease. But behind Cassie is a mountain of physics and engineering.

“Cassie can take a fall and survive,” says Agility Robotics CTO Jonathan Hurst. “Cassie can steer, pick its direction. Cassie can stand in one place, it has ankles, it can actually balance….”

The bird-like Cassie (from “cassowary,” the giant bird from New Guinea) is also a radically different looking robot.

It’s robotic biomimicry kind of by accident, chasing the inherent efficiency and stability of organisms without copying them joint for joint and bone for bone.

It’s about building the most effective platform that the laws of physics allow.

But the beauty and promise of robotics is that there is no single right way for machines to get around. Quadrupeds, like Boston Dynamics’ scary-nimble pack mules, offer great stability. Cockroach bots might one day scramble over rubble and squeeze into tight spaces to inspect collapsed buildings.

And bipeds may have their own place in this increasingly robotic world, doing uniquely humans things like climbing ladders and turning valves in decommissioned nuclear facilities, for instance.

Source: Want a Robot to Walk Like You? Don’t Expect It to Look Human | WIRED