What Is a Walking Robot?

K'Lee Banks

Robots continue to evolve on an ongoing basis. Once restricted to science fiction movies, robots have become a reality in modern times. Developed in many different forms, robots are actually useful tools for testing everyday products. Some robots roll around on wheels, similar to the Mars rover, while other robots are so advanced that they can simulate the way humans walk. In simplest terms, a walking robot is an electro-mechanical device, sometimes resembling the human form, with the unique ability to walk.

There are toy robots that walk, talk, and interact with children.
There are toy robots that walk, talk, and interact with children.

By utilizing a walking robot, engineers and similar technical professionals can test products like treadmills or running shoes without putting a human being through tedious or dangerous testing procedures. Not all walking robots are intended for scientific research, however, as some are merely toys. Programmed to replicate human behavior, some toy walking robots can be instructed to walk, turn left or right, and even repeat recorded phrases. Toy walking robots can be entertaining for children, and in some cases may lead them to pursue a career in robotics.

Walking robots simulate the way humans move.
Walking robots simulate the way humans move.

Some companies have invested millions of dollars in developing the walking robot in an endeavor to replace humans in dangerous environments. In addition to taking humans out of hazardous scenarios, other reasons for replacing humans with robots are based on human nature. For example, robots cannot “call in sick,” do not require rest in the human sense, and cannot make mistakes because of the way they are programmed to perform certain tasks. Typically, it is only human error in the programming that causes a robot to make a mistake.

Walking robots are usually found performing tasks for the advancement of humanity. For example, no one wishes to buy a treadmill that will break after a short time. This type of equipment must be tested, thoroughly and rigorously. A walking robot is much more suited to the task of figuring out how many hours of use a treadmill can withstand before it breaks, as it can walk on the treadmill continuously, unlike a human subject who would need to rest.

From entertainment to the advancement of humanity, walking robots are becoming an integral part of life, although many people may never encounter one personally. Someday, researchers and engineers hope that walking robots can take the human element out of the mundane tasks that some people must endure. Much like space travel was once only in the movies, someday each individual may have his or her own walking robot servant tending to human personal needs at home. Unlike the robots portrayed in movies like "I, Robot," however, walking robots are only machines. They can only do what they are told, or programmed, to do.

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