Video: SQ1 Quadruped Robot from South Korea

South Korea is developing their own version of the BigDog quadruped robot

1 min read
Video: SQ1 Quadruped Robot from South Korea

This feisty little guy is a quadruped robot called SQ1. It's a project by South Korean company SimLab, whom we met at the IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems last month. Their RoboticsLab simulation software is being used to figure out how to get the quadruped to walk without actually, you know, having to risk a trial-and-error approach on a real robot. And it works! Or rather, it mostly works:

We don't know too much about it, but apparently, there's a much larger (think BigDog/AlphaDog sized) quadruped in existence (sponsored by the South Korean government). This smaller robot is being used to test out different gaits that have proven themselves in simulation, before the full-sized (and more expensive) version tries not to fall over on its own.

[ RoboticsLab ]

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Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman
LightGreen

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.

"I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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