What Happens When Robots Exercise?

Looking forward to the time when robots will be able to do anything a human can do? Well, those days are quickly approaching. Researchers from the University of Tokyo have created a robot called Kengoro that moves much like a human does.

Push-ups aren't just for humans anymore -- Kengoro can do these, too.
Push-ups aren't just for humans anymore -- Kengoro can do these, too.

The secret to its ability to run, jump, and do push-ups with ease is the series of actuators in its joints -- 116 motors each with a gearbox -- that give Kengoro a life-like limberness. This robot even sweats, so to speak. Water circulates through the robot's aluminum frame to keep those motors cool, and escapes as vapor.

The robot that sweats:

  • Kengoro's cooling system is passive, so water actually seeps out through the frame around the motors, cooling them as it evaporates.

  • Kengoro is very flexible. He can move his head from side to side, and can stand on his toes. He has a flexible spine, which allows him to do sit-ups just like a human.

  • A robot like Kengoro might be useful as a crash test dummy, allowing researchers to better assess how collisions affect humans. Or Kengoro and his kin might be used in the future to rescue people during a natural disaster.

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