You can't keep a good robot down. HyQ2Max is a tough and powerful quadruped designed to get back on its feet when knocked over.

It was built by roboticists from the Italian Institute of Technology. Four-legged, animal-like robots, they say, can cope better with hazardous environments than typical wheeled or tracked vehicles.

"Much like a cat or a goat that is very agile on rough terrain, this robot can in the future help in very unstructured environments, for example after an earthquake, after a tsunami or after a house has collapsed for other reasons; these kind of robots can be applied in an environment where the terrain is difficult and where you don't want to send people," says Claudio Simini, Head of Dynamic Legged Systems in the Advanced Robotics department of the Italian Institute of Technology.

And HyQ2Max could be just the robot.

HyQ2Max The powerful four-legged robot can get back on its feet after being knocked over; demonstrating the robustness needed for hazardous search and rescue missions. Photo: Reuters

With large joint ranges and high joint torque, it can right itself in seconds. "So we want to put the robot down on the ground and see how it gets back up on its feet. So this can happen in reality when the robot, for example, slips or is somehow falling down for whatever reason; the robot needs to be able to get up again," says Semini. Its torso is made from aerospace-grade aluminum alloy, with lightweight fiberglass and Kevlar covers protecting the onboard electronics.

As well as search and rescue missions, HyQ2Max could have industrial uses. "There's a lot of markets that have a bigger potential. Other markets are, for example; construction, or the forestry industry, but there's also maintenance, remote inspection - there's a various range of applications where these high mobility vehicles will be applied in the future."

The next step is to attach a pair of powerful dexterous arms to the front of the robot, creating a centaur-like machine capable of manipulating and handling objects.