(Mirror Daily, United States) – Rescue missions could get a little less dangerous, as the Walk-Man robot could help through collapsed buildings and venture in spaces where it’s too perilous for humans. This way, it could spare potential injuries, or even lives lost of trained professionals.
Researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology designed the Walk-Man humanoid robot especially for that purpose. They focused on the anthropomorphic frame as a way for it to perfectly fit through any passageway like a human would. That way, it won’t have to be used in specific environments, and would instead blend with the world itself.
According to lead author of the study, Nikos Tsagarakis, the world is essentially built around our bodies. Buildings, doors, windows, corridors, all are especially made for our own frames, which means that a humanoid robot would fare just as well. Wheeled counterparts might see to certain obstacles as impossible to cross. However, with proper algorithms and a human remote pilot, it could be achieved for a bot with arms, legs, head, and torso just like our own.
By creating a robot similar to humans, this means that the Walk-Man will have human capabilities of movement in its perfect environment. It could be a potentially amazing step forward to have such a robot advance slowly through collapsed buildings. It will have abiltiies of picking up debris or turning heavy valves. All without the risk of losing human life.
But first, it has to have the ability of navigating through challenging environments. Unlike most robots, who are using their lower half for balance, the Walk-Man will take advantage of all its limbs. It will make additional contact with the environment in order to maintain balance. This will be highly effective when sliding through obstacles, collapsed walls, or cluttered spaces.
The Walk-Man is 6 feet tall and weighs around 260 pounds, showing balance, locomotion, and manipulation capabilities. It will be equipped with a stereo vision system, and a 3D laser scanner which will make it aware of its environments.
The purpose of the researchers is to make it an entirely autonomous robot. Their ambition is to offer it enough perception and cognitive abilities that will allow it to judge through spaces on its own. However, it all else fails, there will be a human remote driver to help with the tougher decisions. There will always be a pilot supervising its actions.
According to Tsagarakis, their focus will be centered around reflex, balance, and manipulation. Speed is not one of their greatest concerns, especially since it’s built to work in fragile environments. It’s easier to judge distances, obstacles, and potential collisions at a slower speed.
So, it will not be part of an aggressive and fast in-and-out rescue mission. Instead, it will a dexterous and well-balanced careful rescuer for fragile situations.