Christian Jimenez/Oregon State University
  • Cassie, a bipedal robot built at Oregon State University in the US, has run a 5km outdoors for the first time.
  • The robot, produced by Agility Robotics, finished in 53 minutes after recovering from two falls.
  • This is the first such robot to "use machine learning to control a running gait on outdoor terrain."
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A robot in Oregon in the US isn't trying to run the world - it just wants to run 5 kilometres.

The bipedal bot, named Cassie, did just that. The robot completed the 5K in just over 53 minutes on a single battery charge, according to a press release from Oregon State University, where it was invented. Its time is roughly comparable to the half-hour many people take to finish a 5 kilometre run.

The achievement makes Cassie "the first bipedal robot to use machine learning to control a running gait on outdoor terrain," according to the release.

Cassie encountered two minor hiccups along the way: The robot fell twice, once because of an overheated computer, and the second time because it was asked to turn at too high a speed, the release says.

The robot is the product of OSU spinoff company Agility Robotics, coupled with a 16-month, $1 million (R14,5 million) grant from the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Cassie owes the success of her run to a combination of "biomechanics and existing robot control approaches with new machine learning tools," Agility co-founder Jonathan Hurst said in the release.

"This type of holistic approach will enable animal-like levels of performance," he continued. "It's incredibly exciting."

"Running requires dynamic balancing - the ability to maintain balance while switching positions or otherwise being in motion - and Cassie has learned to make infinite subtle adjustments to stay upright while moving," the release says, adding that Cassie has "knees that bend like an ostrich's."

Agility launched Cassie in 2017. The robot has previously learned how to climb up and down stairs, according to the release. Agility has since made a humanoid robot named Digit, which has arms for tasks like handling packages.

Watch OSU's video of Cassie running the 5km here:

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