Dog-like robots can now walk across 6-cm-wide beams

Italian researchers develop a four-legged robot that can balance on 6cm-wide beams. © Dynamic Legged Systems lab / Youtube.com

ROME: Italian researchers have developed a four-legged robot that has better balance than most humans.

While we all know Spot, the dog-like robot developed by Massachusetts-based robotics company Boston Dynamics, there’s a new (currently unnamed) four-legged machine in town created by researchers from the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Italy.

Though Spot has been shown exhibiting dog-like movements while completing tasks like jumping, walking over rough terrain, and even herding sheep, all these things can only be accomplished on a solid, expansive surface.

The Italians’ take on the quadruped robot has an ability that Spot doesn’t: the ability to balance itself — all 90kg — on and walk across six centimetre-wide beams.

How the research team designed this skill is outlined in a paper published late last week.

Both Spot and the Italian robot dog have been designed with productivity in mind; they are being created to help humans and to assist them with tasks that could be deemed too dangerous for a person.

On the other hand in other parts of the world, dog robots are being built for the sole purpose of entertainment.

In Japan, Sony’s Digital Creatures Laboratory developed Aibo, a robot dog that looks and acts like a real pup complete with barking and owner recognition.

The most recent version of Aibo has beagle-like coloring and can act as a security guard strolling through its owner’s home while they’re away.

Dog-like robots are proving themselves useful in more ways than one — from assisting healthcare professionals to comforting those in need of companionship. Over the next few years, you’re sure to see some four-legged bots out and about helping businesses — you may even invite one into your home.