Mabel the Running Robot

This has a sort of Battlestar Galactica like feeling to it.

Meet Mabel.


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Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Phil_NL says:

    I hope I can duck the sour grapes award here, but I’d be a whole lot more impressed if there wasn’t a beam attached to both robot and a centre post, which makes it a lot easier for it to stay upright, which is part of the challenge in this kind of movement.

    On the other hand, with the Battlestar Galactica associations, it’s perphas best for mankind the robot isn’t too advanced yet…

  2. asperges says:

    Yes, but can it make a decent cup of tea?

  3. Jack Hughes says:


    Like the Dr Who reference

  4. AnAmericanMother says:

    Yeah, it’s basically just a hot walker or merry-go-round with ground-thrashing attachment. It also looks as though the track is set up to balance the legs, which have no feet and thus could not balance on their own.
    I suppose it’s an intermediate step towards having these things roaming the countryside . . . time to set trip wires I suppose.

  5. Art says:

    What makes Mabel interesting is that it is bipedal. Looking at how the beam is not solidly attached to the center post, the amount of physical support Mabel gets is minimal.

    As for things roaming the countryside, there’s Boston Dynamic’s Big Dog:

  6. Patti Day says:

    Glad I don’t live downstairs from Mabel.

  7. acroat says:

    I prefer my Mint & Neato. They do housework. Mabel is just running in circles.

  8. The engineering team was reportedly inspired to build Mabel after years of observing liberals exercising their civic duties on election day.

  9. LarryD says:

    Today it’s a robot running in circles. Tomorrow, it’s Skynet launching nuclear warheads.

  10. Rob Cartusciello says:

    Building a bipedal robot reflects a design bias to build something that looks & moves like a human being. Why bother building a robot that is bipedal when we can get one to move perfectly well on wheels or tracks?

  11. JohnT says:

    I’ll probably reflect back on this someday in the future when hordes of Catholics and pro-lifers are fleeing later models of this.
    There are some good taunts there, however: “Yah! Ya run like yer grandma Mabel, Woodsman!” I wonder if it’ll get it.

  12. jflare says:

    “Looking at how the beam is not solidly attached to the center post, the amount of physical support Mabel gets is minimal.”

    Um, I watched the video again. It appears to me as though Mabel receives a fair degree of lateral stability from both the beam and from the safety cable, both of which are attached to the center post. Especially when Mabel moves at higher speeds, you can discern some degree of movement to one side or the other by the center poll; you can also discern a few moments when Mabel appears to be about to collapse sideways, but doesn’t because she’s stabilized by the beam etc.

    That’s not terribly surprising really. Any object that moves in a circle at a fairly high rate of speed will have a healthy amount of centripetal force to overcome. You have much the same experience if you try to change lanes when driving around a convex curve at higher speed. You must keep a firm grip on the steering wheel to remain in the center of the lane, else you’ll slew off the side of the road.

    I agree with someone earlier though: I’d be a bit more impressed if Mabel moved without any sideward stabilizing agent.
    On the other hand, I remember reading something about how this aims to help improve prosthesis technology and the like.

    I’d say it’d be interesting to see how Mabel performs when running for 400 meters in a straight line.

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