German researchers have developed a new monkey robot that could someday be sent to the moon to explore the lunar landscape.
Scientists at Germany's Research Center for Artificial Intelligence created the robot imitation of an ape that walks on its back feet and front knuckles.
According to Gizmag, the mechanical monkey has been lately practising how to walk and balance in the centre's mock lunar landscape.
However, exploring the hazardous lunar landscape calls for a variety of forms and researchers are exploring their options.
The robot ape moves without cables connecting it to something else and is able to walk forwards, backwards and even sideways. It can also turn itself in a new direction.
What is new in this effort is the target - an ape – and the approach the team is taking in attempting to replicate the way a real ape moves.
Each part of the body is seen as both a single entity and as a part of a larger system. Thus, each body part has been designed to accomplish certain goals as both a single unit and as a part of a larger whole system.
The back feet, for example, each have pressure sensors, rather than simple joints. Those sensors provide information to the control and information processing compartment which relates what the feet are "feeling" to information coming in from other parts of the body.
The initial result is a robot that has the shape of an ape and walks roughly like one. The team notes that they are only still in the beginning stages of development of the robot.
The plan is to refine all of the robot's parts to gradually remove the stilted movements with the smooth transitions seen with real animals.
One of those changes will be replacing the current rigid spine with an accentuated spinal column. This will allow the robot to twist as it turns, and perhaps, to stand up on two legs and pick fruit from trees at some point in the future.