Walking is really difficult for bipedal robots; consumers used to finished products should realize the decades of work that go into successful robotics.
(MARLO tries the Wave Field)
“The robot has no feeling in her tiny feet, but she senses the angles of her joints— for instance, her knee angles, hip angles and the rotation angle of her torso,” said Jessy Grizzle, the Elmer G. Gilbert Distinguished University Professor of Engineering and the Jerry W. and Carol L. Levin Professor of Engineering. “It’s like walking blindfolded and on stilts.”
MARLO is Grizzle’s first robot that can walk (and fall) in any direction, known as 3D walking. With their previous robot, MABEL, Grizzle’s team produced leading control algorithms for robots that need to move in only two dimensions. MABEL was attached to a boom that gave her sideways stability.
Science fiction writer Henry Slesar helped readers understand the long process by which a robot might learn to walk in his 1958 short story Brother Robot:
Feb 6, 1997:
This is a day twice-blessed for me. Today, at St. Luke's hospital, our first child was born to my wife, Ila... when I saw her this morning, I could not bring myself to mention the second birth that has taken place in my laboratory. The birth of Machine, my robot child...
As time goes on, little Mac, the robot baby, is developing beautifully:
At four months, Fitz is developing along normal lines. His little body has gone from asymmetric postures to symmetric postures, his eyes now converge and fasten on any dangling object held at mid-point.
As for Mac, he is developing even more rapidly. He is beginning to learn control of his limbs: it is apparent that he will walk before his human brother. Before long, he will learn to speak; already I hear the rumbles within the cavity of the soundbox in his chest.
(Read more about Slesar's robot baby)