Meet Hermes, a robot with super-human strength and the ability to move as intuitively as a person. Researchers from MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering have designed the tele-operated bipedal disaster robot with an interface that allows him to react more quickly than other robots. Researchers work with the robot to go through different motions and actions.
“We want to explore how humans can take over complex actions for the robot,” said Joao Ramos, a PhD student in the department, in a press statement.
If Hermes could think, the robot’s attitude might be: Anything you can do, I can do better. He can smash soda cans, pour liquids from one cup to another, karate-chop boards in half, and punch through walls, all from following the lead of his human partner.
To make this happen, Ramos is rigged up to a wired exoskeleton next to Hermes, and as he moves his actions are translated over to Hermes who copies them. Because of this set up, Hermes can maintain balance while carrying out high impact momentum-driven tasks that would make most bipedal robots fall over.
A balance-feedback mechanism is what keeps Hermes from toppling. For example, when Ramos punches the wall, he will receive feedback that feels like a jolt at his waist. This signals Ramos to readjust his position and re-distribute his weight to keep the copycat robot standing upright.
Looking forward, Ramos and his team plan for the human operator to wear a full-body suit and goggles for a complete experience.