Elleda Wilson: Run, Cassie, run

Oct. 6—The Oregon State University Newsroom had quite an announcement recently: The university's College of Engineering bipedal robot, Cassie, set the 100-meter record for the fastest sprint by a bipedal robot at 24.7 seconds, achieving a Guinness World Record. She started out from a standing position, and wound up that way, as well, with no falls.

Cassie also ran a 5K on the college campus, untethered and on a single battery charge, in 2021. She's the "first bipedal robot to use machine learning to control a running gait on outdoor terrain," the press release says. She has bendable knees, but has no cameras or external sensors. Most disconcertingly, she also has no head.

"Cassie has been a platform for pioneering research in robot learning for locomotion," Devin Crowley, leader of the Guinness World Record effort, said. "Completing a 5K was about reliability and endurance, which left open the question of, how fast can Cassie run? That led the research team to shift its focus to speed."

After training for a year, "Cassie can perform a spectrum of different gaits, but as we specialized it for speed we began to wonder, which gaits are most efficient at each speed?" Crowley said. "This led to Cassie's first optimized running gait and resulted in behavior that was strikingly similar to human biomechanics." Which is starting to sound a little scary. (Photo: Kegan Sims)