How Did a Robot Possibly Learn to Walk on its Own?

Image Source: Agility Robotics

Technology does amuse us when a robot behaves like a human. In this case, we have a robot named Cassie that tried walking by itself. Not that we haven’t seen humanoid robots walk earlier, this one has actually taught itself to do so. It’s almost like a toddler coming of age and taking her first footsteps.

A Glance at Cassie – What Do You Need to Know About this Robot?

Cassie is a kind of a humanoid robot you might say – only it doesn’t have an upper half. Yes, this robot only comprises of 2 legs. To define it in the exact terms, it is a dynamic bipedal robot.

It is a creation of some researchers at the University of California, Berkley. It is strong, durable and capable of running for a long time on a single battery charge. The best part about it is that you can use it to conduct some outdoor experiments without using a tether.

How Did Cassie the Robot Learn to Walk?

Do you know what really makes a robot smart? The answer in 2 words is artificial intelligence. Without AI, a robot is actually just a piece of art.

The branch of artificial intelligence that helps robots act according to the environment that it senses is machine learning. The aspects of machine learning that has been used for the same in this case is reinforcement learning.

Here’s what the researchers have done to see if Cassie can learn to walk on its own:

  • They created a virtual environment where they used a database of robotic movements.
  • In this environment, they trained a simulated version of the robot.
  • Next, they created another virtual environment, this time using SimMechanics, a multibody simulation environment for modelling robots or other 3D machines.
  • Here, they observed that the simulated version was able to walk.
  • Now, the researchers installed this version in the actual robot.
  • Upon doing so, they observed Cassie take its first footsteps on its own.

After this, the researchers started training it further. As of now, the robot can walk on both rough & slippery surfaces, resist a push from an external force and carry some unexpectedly heavy loads. It didn’t even fall when 2 of its motors on the right leg got damaged.

You know what is the fun part here? Cassie is still in its training and development stage! It means it has potential for more. We can only wait to see what else the researchers can make out of it.

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