This robot taught itself how to walk and it’s as clumsy as a newborn deer

dyret robot learns to walk outside snow
University of Oslo

Watching machine learning take place in real time can be a pretty astonishing experience. Like seeing a kid growing up, only compressed into a shorter time frame, you get to witness early failed attempts gradually give way to competency and, eventually, a high level of skill. That is thanks to the way such systems learn, based on trial and error as they try and achieve a specific goal. For the latest example of that, look no further than DyRET (Dynamic Robot for Embodied Testing) the robot. Created by researchers at Norway’s University of Oslo, it’s a quadruped robot — reminiscent of Boston Dynamics’ four-legged robots — which uses evolutionary algorithms to figure out efficient locomotion. In other words, unlike Boston Dynamics’ robots, DyRET learns to walk on its own.

The results are like that famous walking scene from Disney’s Bambi with some high-end robotics thrown in for good measure!

“DyRET is a four-legged mammal-inspired robot platform I’ve been making as part of my Ph.D.,” Tonnes Nygaard, a robotics researcher with the Engineering Predictability With Embodied Cognition project, told Digital Trends. “What makes this robot different from other robots is that the robot itself can modify the length of the legs while operating. Robots are used in more and more complex and changing environments, and being able to do this gives the robot the unique ability to adapt not only the way it is walking or acting, but the body of the robot as well.”

The robot’s gait is controlled by eight different parameters. These dictate aspects of its movement such as how long each step should be or how high the robot must lift its extendable legs. The evolutionary algorithms help optimize these parameters and figure out how best to move about, while being as stable and speedy as possible. Like natural selection in the real world, the evolutionary algorithm means the “fittest” solutions are passed onto the next generation — resulting in a Darwinian process which plays out far more rapidly than would be seen in the evolution of, say, a species of animal adapting to a new climate or terrain.

“This robot is a first attempt at a complex robot with self-changing morphology in hardware, and will serve as a research platform,” Nygaard continued. “A huge part of evolutionary robotics research is today done in simulation, due to the ease and speed of implementation and testing. Real-world environments have a richness and natural noise that is impossible to replicate perfectly in simulation, and I believe the way forward for the field is to start moving more of the research effort into hardware experiments.”

Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.

Boost your PCs power by learning how to overclock your CPU

Is your PC just chugging along, a little slower than you'd like? Sometimes you just need a little more power under the hood. Before you pick up some new hardware, learn how to overclock your CPU.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Earth Day, indoor container farming, robot submarines

Today on Digital Trends Live, we discuss how technology intersects with Earth Day, a new Tim Cook biography, indoor container farming, robot spy submarines, A.I. death metal, and more.

This is the one thing you need to do before giving your child a smart phone or tablet

Monitoring your kids' digital habits can be a challenge in today’s high-tech age, but great parental control software like Qustodio gives parents a much-needed advantage Read on to find out how you can protect your child from online…
Emerging Tech

Beresheet crash caused by manual command, but reflector device may have survived

Details are emerging about what may have gone wrong with spacecraft Beresheet's failed moon landing. A manual command was entered which led to a chain reaction. But NASA still hopes to salvage use of its Laser Retroreflector Array device.
Emerging Tech

The oldest type of molecule in the universe has been located at last

A milestone in the development of the early universe was the combination of helium and hydrogen atoms into a molecule called helium hydride. But strangely enough, this ancient molecule has never been detected in space before now.
Emerging Tech

The grid of the future will be powered by … giant subterranean bagpipes?

In order to transition to a more renewable-focused energy system, we need to scale up our grid storage capacity --- and our existing methods aren't going to cut it. Could compressed air be the key?
Emerging Tech

Mercury’s wobble as it spins reveals that it has an inner solid core

Scientists have long wondered what the inside of Mercury looks like, and they now have strong evidence that the planet has a large and solid metallic core. The data for the new findings was collected by the now-defunct MESSENGER mission.
Emerging Tech

Gravitational forces at heart of Milky Way shaped this star cluster like a comet

Hubble has captured the stunning Messier 62 cluster. The cluster is warped, with a long tail which stretches out to form a shape like a comet. It is thought this distortion is due to Messier 62's proximity to the center of the galaxy.
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?
Emerging Tech

Troubleshooting Earth

It’s no secret that humans are killing the planet. Some say it’s actually so bad that we’re hurtling toward a sixth major extinction event -- one which we ourselves are causing. But can technology help us undo the damage we’ve…
Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.
Emerging Tech

Climeworks wants to clean the atmosphere with a fleet of truck-sized vacuums

Using machines that resemble jet engines, Climeworks wants to fight climate change by extracting CO2 from thin air. The gas can then be sold to carbonated drink and agriculture companies, or sequestered underground.
Emerging Tech

How 3D printing has changed the world of prosthetic limbs forever

When he was 13 years old, Christophe Debard had his leg amputated. Here in 2019, Debard's Print My Leg startup helps others to create 3D-printed prostheses. Welcome to a growing revolution!