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This robot laughs at a broken leg
If you break a leg, that’s a problem. If you’re sat reeling at that fairly basic observation, then strap in, because the rest of this article might finally blow your mind once and for all.
Robots – particularly those deployed in operations too dangerous or unpleasant for humans to bother with – will often also suffer in the line of service. Traditionally, a robot breaking a leg is the end of its useful lifespan, but that could all be about to change thanks to developments at France’s national computer science agency. They’ve devised a six-legged robot that can detect when it’s injured, and adjust how it moves accordingly.
Now, you may be quietly complaining that if you had four extra legs, then you’d be able to deal with the loss of one quite well, but this is a huge development in robotic terms. Even with six legs, your common or garden robot wouldn’t be able to adapt to losing a limb, and would essentially become scrap metal. These new ones can algorithmically react, and be walking again in less than a minute.
This may sound like the stuff of nightmares, but they aren’t intended for combat – it’s all about disaster relief. As Jean-Baptiste Mouret of the Pierre and Marie Curie University explains on Alphr, “The idea is to have robots that can survive in hostile environments such as a Fukushima-type nuclear disaster. If we send in robots, they have to be able to pursue their mission even if they’re damaged, and not just come to a halt in the middle of a reactor.”
It doesn’t just stop there, though. As Mouret says, “Virtually any robot would benefit from this.” That means there’s scope for self-driving cars, robotic prosthetics and more. To see the first literal baby-steps towards this bright future, check out the video below.