A German research project has gone bananas, developing a robotic ape that closely resembles a real-life primate.
The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, or DFKI, created a robotic imitation of an ape that walks on its back feet and front knuckles, phys.org reports. But, the ape-like appearance of the four-legged robot is not the project’s prime purpose.
The ape robot is part of a DFKI project called iStruct that is looking to “improve the locomotion and mobility characteristics” of robots using intelligent sensors that help robots walk and balance.
Two videos posted on the DFKI website shows the robot walking on all fours and balancing on a table that tilts back and forth. One clip points to 43 force and torque sensors, accelerometers and distance sensors that help the robot walk smoothly. Another video shows how the robot can quickly shift its balance while remaining in the same spot.
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The robot is in its initial stages of development. According to phys.org, the plan is to replace the robot’s current rigid spin with an accentuated spinal column, which will allow the robot to twist and turn and stand on two legs.
DFKI notes funding for the project comes from the Space Agency of the German Aerospace Center and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, or BMWi, which may shed light on the robot’s future mission in outer space.
IEEE Spectrum’s Evan Ackerman, who spotted the unusual robot, came up with another idea behind its creation.
“The important take-home message, I think, is this: There is now potential for a future that's a combination of a robot apocalypse and 'Planet of the Apes,'” Ackerman writes.