The StarlETH quadruped robot can run, walk, and climb over tough terrain autonomously, say its creators. Jim Drury saw the metal, four-legged, beast in action.
StarlETH is making a big noise in the field of robotics. Containing 12 actuators and almost 50 on-board sensors, it copes with obstacles and tough terrain. SOUNDBITE (English) DEPUTY DIRECTOR AUTONOMOUS SYSTEMS LAB (ASL) AT ETH ZURICH, ETH ZURICH, MARCO HUTTER, SAYING: "The system itself just balances from a step-to-step basis and moves several legs at a time and you can even do this if I push it or pull it to the side. So it accordingly plans where to step to the ground, distributes the forces in appropriate way and balances out whatever disturbances they have and that of course works if I put something underneath the foot, so it senses that and accordingly plans where to step." This makes it potentially useful for search and rescue missions. ETH Zurich researchers developed integrated springs which help it store energy and release it with each bound....just like humans do. StarlETH works autonomously or via remote control. It contains three on-board computers, laser sensors, and cameras, and runs on batteries. SOUNDBITE (English) STARLETH PROJECT ENGINEER, ETH ZURICH, REMO DIETHELM, SAYING: "One big advantage of our robot is the energy efficiency, where you are only using 220 watts and with two of those batteries here we can walk about one hour." The team says a future generation of StarlETH could be used for industrial inspections, bomb disposal, and demining. It's taking part in the ARGOS Challenge run by oil giants Total to find a robot that can help with oil exploration. And StarlETH is poised and ready to spring into action.