An Oregon State University start-up is designing a two-legged robot inspired by the look and movement of flightless birds.
Cassie, created by OSU start-up Agility Robotics, has a confident, ostrich-like gait that allows it to traverse any awkward or complex footings without falling over, as other robots tend to do. Eventually, Cassie will get arms and sensors to help it better interact with people and objects around it, allowing it to run deliveries, assist the disabled or perform search-and-rescue missions.
Led by CEO Damion Shelton, Agility plans to spend the next year submitting its robot to academic and corporate research departments. The start-up’s goal for the year is to be selling Cassie to companies that require surveying services. According to Shelton, Agility wants Cassie to be “the standard for legged autonomy.”
Aside from improving maneuverability, Cassie’s unique design also helps the robot look more normal. “Because the gait is so much like an animal’s, people don’t stop and stare,” says Shelton. “It sort of blends in.”
Shelton sees further automation ahead, such as self-driving trucks that would transport packages while Cassie and other robots carried the packages directly to customers’ doors. But rather than displacing human delivery drivers altogether, Shelton says they will become more like customer service representatives, “with robots doing the heavy lifting.”