Robot gaits

Discover has published recently a couple of robot videos that demonstrate how robots might get from here to there.

Scientists in Korea have devised the tiniest of robots that, with more development, could be used to carry drugs inside the human body to bust blood clots. Seen through a microscope lens and powered by cardiac tissue from a rat, the robot is cute and slightly off-putting at the same time as it kneads its way along the surface.

Another video of a jaunty biped robot (think Star Wars) demonstrates a different and more natural approach to walking. Instead of applying brute computation power to calculate knee and ankle angles,

RunBot, developed in the lab of computational neuroscientist Florentin Wörgötter of the University of Göttingen, takes a simpler, more human approach. 'Humans do not exert continuous control,' Wörgötter says. 'During parts of the walking process, we just fall forward and catch ourselves on the next step.'

The quote reminded me of an approach to artificial intelligence that sees the mind in organic terms, not as a computational or mechanical process.

In both videos, one gets the sense of looking from afar at something very, very new.