Dexter is a remarkable dynamically balancing humanoid robot; this might be the first truly bipedal robot that walks the way we do, balancing from moment to moment.
Dexter is the creation of Trevor Blackwell; he's been working on this problem for six years. The key breakthrough was to dramatically improve the robot's own sense of balance. Commercial gyroscopes weren't good enough, so he built his own. Lighter feet helped too.
On the morning of Valentine's Day, Dexter was walking so well that Trevor and Scott Wiley took the front off his rolling cage (which catches him when he falls) so that he'd have more room. And by that night, Dexter was really walking. The longest walk, which Dan Miller got on video, was over six feet.
Now, a week later, Dexter is so good at walking that the limit on the length of his walks is the size of room he lives in. Next step: a cage that can operate outdoors, so Trevor can take Dexter for a walk in the park.
A dynamically balancing robot is really something to see. You can't turn away from it. It's so shockingly anthropomorphic.
The robot's creators claim that Dexter is different from other robots, like Honda's Asimo, because those bots require an absolutely level or regular floor and cannot learn to walk better.
Science fiction fans have been waiting for this for generations; we all have our favorites, but readers seem to like this one:
(C3PO [left] and George Lucas)
Thanks to Adi for writing in with this one. See here for a bit more descriptive info about Dexter.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/28/2007)