MABEL The fastest two-legged robot with knees

A robot in a University of Michigan lab can run like a human—a feat that represents the height of agility and efficiency for a two-legged machine. With a peak pace of 6.8 miles per hour, MABEL is believed to be the world's fastest bipedal robot with knees.

                     

"It's stunning," said Jessy Grizzle, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. "I have never seen a machine doing a motion like this."

MABEL could help pave the way for robots that can better navigate rough terrain. More than 70 percent of Earth's surface isn't navigable by tracked or wheeled vehicles. And, in this CNN appearance, Grizzle also explains possible directions for the research -- saving lives in search and rescue missions and developing exoskeletons for people who are paralyzed.

MABEL was built in 2008 in collaboration with Jonathan Hurst, who was then a doctoral student at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Grizzle and U-M doctoral students Koushil Sreenath and Hae-Won Park have spent the years since ratcheting up MABEL's training. They've been progressively improving thefeedback algorithms that enable the robot to keep its balance while reacting to its environment in real time.

MABEL was in the spotlight a few years ago when a video of her breaking a leg in an experiment went viral. The robot was featured on the Discover Channel Canada's Daily Planet show in 2010. The appearance is about five minutes in on this episode.