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Resilient Robots

December 7, 2006

Scientists are developing robots that can recognize and compensate for injuries.


Robots that compensate for injuries. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

If you sprained your ankle, you might walk with a limp or use crutches, but you’d find some way to get around. Now, scientists at Cornell University have built a robot that can do the same thing. The team included computer scientist Josh Bongard, now at the University of Vermont. He says their four-legged robot actually learns how its body normally orients itself in space. If that suddenly changes, it checks itself for damage.

JOSH BONGARD (University of Vermont, formerly Cornell):
After it’s figured out what’s gone wrong, it’s able to come up with a new way of moving, or a new strategy, that allows it to carry on with its mission, despite the fact that it’s been damaged or injured.

Next, they plan to program the robots to fix themselves, or even summon other robots for help. He says this resiliency could be useful in exploring other planets, or in surveying disaster areas here on Earth.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.