We knew the HyQ (Hydraulic Quadruped) from the Italian Institute of Technology could run and we knew it could deal with an uneven walking surface when it came to one, but now the HyQ has got a few new tricks up its hydraulic sleeve. The new skills include seeing and reacting to hazards in its path and recovering from body checks administered by 50 lb punching bags.
One new trick the HyQ has picked up is how to actively avoid hazards in its path. The HyQ is now being tweaked to use cameras and sensors to actually place its “feet” in spots that won’t cause it any walking issues – kind of like a kid jumping from stone to stone across a river, or a Bostonian pirouetting around ice patches on the way to his or her car.
The HyQ can also amble through a tight v-shaped trough by jutting its legs outward at just the right angle. Should the HyQ ever want to go canyoning in the tight crevices of the Moab desert, it’s all set.
Perhaps the most entertaining new feature of the HyQ is how it deals with contact from moving objects. As seen in the video, the robot’s actively compliant legs allow it to respond to a sudden impact from, let’s say, a 50 lb heavy bag, by quickly adjusting their rigidity to absorb the blow. When hit, the robot scampers to the side with remarkable similarity to a living four legged beast.
Coolest bots on the block? That’s a tough one to answer. Boston Dynamics, which was recently purchased by Google, has its own dream team of animal-like bots including the BigDog, LS3, and the WildCat, all of which pack impressive resumes of mechanical agility. But we’ll leave the favorite picking to you – let us know where you stand in the comments section below.