Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) have designed and built a new robot "dog" that can traverse rough terrain either autonomously or while controlled by a remote operator.
About as large as a medium-sized dog, StarlETH is battery-powered and uses an array of nearly 50 on-board sensors to sense its environment and 12 actuators to enable it to move around.
"It's meant to be a robot that can climb over obstacles, so being very versatile," says lead researcher Marco Hutter. It also is small enough that it can be deployed by a single person.
Hutter says one of StarlETH's more interesting features is integrated springs that help it store and release energy with each bound. He says this was inspired by the mechanics of the human leg, which allows humans to recuperate much of their energy with each stride when they run.
Hutter notes there could be any number of possible applications for the technology used to build StarlETH. Successor robots could be used for industrial inspections, bomb disposal, construction work, search and rescue, and demining operations. They also could fill some human roles, such as security guard, waiter, or healthcare assistant.
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