Robo-dog named “HOUND” sets 100-metre robot sprint record

By Sanj Atwal
Published
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A four-legged robot, named “HOUND”, has set a record by running the fastest 100 metres by a quadrupedal robot.

At an average speed of 11.26 miles per hour, HOUND covered the distance in 19.87 seconds.

HOUND was developed by the Dynamic Robot Control and Design Laboratory at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon, South Korea.

Starting from a stationary position, the robot completed its sprint and came to a standstill after crossing the finishing line. “All of these movements were achieved with a single [motor] controller trained in the simulation through reinforcement learning,” said Young-Ha Shin, HOUND’s designer.

“In order to push the limits of the actuator, motor characteristics were incorporated into the simulation to make the environment as close to the real world as possible.

“In simulation, it can accelerate to even higher speeds, but we haven't tested it in the real world yet.”

HOUND on running track

HOUND is fitted with lightweight feet, specialized for sprinting. It weighs 45 kg (99 lb), which is similar to an average adult male American bulldog.

It was designed to have a comprehensive range of motion, achieved by giving the hip and knee actuator modules a parallel configuration, along with a belt-pulley system to transmit the knee actuation to the knee joint.

For the gearbox, a system with high-power transmission efficiency was chosen.

Careful consideration was also given to HOUND’s motor: “Instantaneous and steady performance are important characteristics when deciding a motor for dynamic legged locomotion,” Young-Ha Shin explained.

HOUND on grass

Although it was designed for high-speed running, HOUND can do much more than that. It has proved able to successfully climb a 22° slope, walk 3.2 km, and traverse a 35-cm-high obstacle.

The robo-dog’s range of movement, as well as its speed, will undoubtedly continue to improve in the future as its creators continue to work on it.

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