A robot that can run: OSU celebrates historic 5K

Cassie the robot's top speed is about 7 mph.

Posted: Sep 16, 2021 6:58 PM

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Over the course of about four years, a group of Oregon State University students and professors created a bipedal robot that can run.

The project was jumpstarted by the company Agility Robotics. Jonathan Hurst, a co-founder of the company and a professor of mechanical engineering and robitics at OSU, helped spearhead the project.

PhD student Kevin Green has been a part of the process for the past few years. 

"Cassie originally really is an evolution of earlier robots from our research lab. So even before Cassie, there was a robot called ATRIAS, which stood for 'assume the robot is a sphere,' which is saying, let's get down to the basics. How simple of a robot can we make that exhibits agile locomotion," said Green. 

Simply put, Cassie is among the many robots designed to study movement and help jump start other projects with Agility Robotics. 

ATRIUS and Cassie led to the creation of Digit, another two-legged robot, which also has arms and a torso. 

The end goal is to have robots like Digit help with everyday life, like moving boxes and working in factories. Agility Robotics has since started working on Digit the robot through their own company. But students at the Dynamic Robotics Laboratory are still hard at work perfecting Cassie. 

Back in July, Cassie the robot completed a 53-minute 5K run. Its top speed is roughly 7 mph.

Jeremy Dao, a PhD student at OSU, helped create what goes into controling the robot.

"A lot of our recent work has been focused on that side of things, kind of getting Cassie to learn by itself, to walk and run and do really cool stuff," said Dao. 

Dao also told KEZI 9 News working with Cassie has been trying at times. 

"It's been a lot of trial and error over the years, but we've had some great successes come out of it," said Dao. 

Running isn't the only thing Cassie can do; the robot can also walk upstairs. And students like Green and Dao have more big plans for Cassie moving forward. 

The team wants to help Cassie do things like turn on a dime and add to the complexity of the robot's movement. 

"We're also looking at adding vision and perception to the robot, so the robot can autonomously navigate around the world," said Dao.

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