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Communications of the ACM


Self-Repair Techniques Point to Robots That Design Themselves

Dextre robot

The Dextre robot helping to repair the International Space Station in 2014.

Credit: NASA

When researchers at the Pierre and Marie Curie University (UPMC) in Paris, France, deliberately damaged two of the legs of their hexapod robot, the machine discovered for itself a novel hopping gait that not only overcame its injury, but proved to be faster than its original walking program. Injured another way, the robot found it could move around more easily on its back. The work was part of efforts to make robots that can work around damage and repair themselves when there is no human to help them.

David Johan Christensen, associate professor at the Technical University of Denmark, observes: "In the future, physical self-repair could become critical in applications where no humans are around to assist or repair the robots; for example, in space or underwater applications."


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