Back in 2015, the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) created a robot called Walk-Man to participate in the DARPA Robotics Challenge. The researchers at the IIT have been working on improving that robot ever since. The latest version of Walk-Man is at its final validation phase and has received a big update to help it prepare to fight disasters in the future.
The new Walk-Man has hardware improvements with a new frame made of aluminum and magnesium alloys along with some titanium. The expanded use of light materials let the bot shed 31 kg dropping the weight down to 102kg. The diet means that Walk-Man is faster, more dynamic, and has better balance.
The bot also has new upper body actuators and a smaller battery. Despite the smaller battery, Walk-Man can operate for two hours on the 1 kWh battery thanks to improved efficiency. The revised Walk-Man is slimmer making it fit through doors more easily.
Researchers also fitted it with new biomorphic 19-DoF hands able to grasp more objects. The arms are also strong enough to carry a 10kg object for over ten minutes. The video below shows Walk-Man operating in a building with simulated earthquake damage.
The idea behind robots like Walk-Man is that they could operate in a disaster in environments that humans can’t operate in. Think toxic or radiated environments after a disaster like Fukushima.