Robots have come a long way from the pages of science fiction, but they haven’t completely arrived yet. However, the gap is closing fast and that’s exciting. Walking is a mundane task for people, but legged robots are still struggling to match human grace, speed and efficiency. UTSA mechanical engineering professor Pranav Bhounsule is trying to change that.
Bhounsule’s research focuses on the motion control of legged robots. For his Ph.D. thesis, he developed an energy-efficient bipedal robot that walked 40 miles without stopping or recharging. The energy for that walk cost a paltry six cents, but the pace of 1.1 mph was very slow by human standards. Bhounsule hopes to develop better legged machines using novel designs and advanced control algorithms. Making robots adept at mobility will speed up their use in society – from service robots in homes to fast responders in emergency situations.
Did you know? As a postdoctoral researcher, Bhounsule worked on Disney’s theme-park robots, known by their trademark name of Audio-AnimatronicsTM figures. He developed control algorithms that would enable them to draw, paint and serve drinks to guests.