Designing Two-Legged Robots to Walk More Naturally

The majority of bipedal robots have been designed with the same basic joint/actuator configuration in their legs. This design, based on a simplified human leg, uses six motors - three for the hip, one for the knee, and two for the ankle - and it has also shown several limitations over the last 25 years. Researchers at the Humanoid Robotics Institute at Waseda University have developed an entirely new shank (lower leg) that more closely replicates human walking, which they installed in their humanoid robot WABIAN-2RIII. Their shank prototype involved many adaptations, and resulted in the WABIAN-2RIII being able to match the human step time of 0.6 seconds, as well as the required 12 degree foot rotation and 90-mm step width. The researchers presented their work at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in May.