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This robot is all downhill

A robot with any electric motor can walk downhill forever.

Researchers in Japan have built an aluminum robot powered purely by forward momentum that can walk downhill seemingly forever.

In a test last year, for example, it walked on a slightly inclined treadmill for 13 hours, long enough to set a Guinness World Record. The human-sized pair of legs took 100,000 steps and covered 15 kilometers (9.3 miles).


The robot contains only mechanical components that have been adjusted so that it has the same thigh and leg lengths as a person, and weighs the same, the developers at the Nagoya Institute of Technology's Sano Lab told video news site DigInfo.

The feet look kind of like golf clubs. In fact, the developers said that they plan to apply the principle of the technology to sports equipment. 

Perhaps they should consider building caddies for the Extreme 19th hole at the Legend Golf and Safari Resort in South Africa. After all, walking downhill is hard on the joints, especially when loaded down with a bag of clubs and balls.

Another potential use is as a type of prosthetic device. In this case, demonstrated at the end of the video, the legs are strapped onto a human, helping him take steps.

Robots that walk forever aren't entirely new. Earlier this summer, for example, we featured this robot that walked 40.5 miles non-stop around a track. Only, that robot had a small battery. The downhill walker, by contrast, is a slave to gravity.

More on walking robots:

 


John Roach is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. To learn more about him, check out his website. For more of our Future of Technology series, watch the featured video below.

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