As humans continue to unwittingly engineer robots that will eventually lead to our downfall as the dominant lifeforms on Earth, we’ve built a wide variety of robots that can run, climb, and swim.
Simon Kalouche, a researcher Carnegie Mellon University, however, has just presented his masters thesis for a new kind of robot leg entirely, the GOAT leg. Named not because it is the Greatest robot leg Of All Time (although, it might be) or due to its resemblance to the horned, climbing animals (although it was apparently inspired by goat's incredible mobility), the "GOAT" in question here stands for Gearless Omni-directional Acceleration-vectoring Topology.
The GOAT leg is designed to be better at something called "dynamic motion," which is the kind of on-the-fly adaptation to changing landscapes that humans and animals are really good at, and that most robots so far are not. It does this by using a tripodal leg that’s capable of shifting in all directions, instead of just moving forward and backward (like other robotic legs do), making it much easier for a robot with GOAT legs to traverse rough terrain and change direction quickly. The GOAT leg is also great at jumping due to that same tripod design, reaching over 32 inches in the air, or more than twice its own height.
Kalouche notes that there are faster robotic leg systems out there, like the one utilized by MIT’s Cheetah robot, but the Cheetah requires relatively level ground, unlike a theoretical GOAT robot, which would likely be able to navigate a much wider range of terrain.
For now though, the GOAT leg remains in early stages of testing. Kalouche hopes to be able to integrate external electronic and power components into the leg itself, and from there, eventually utilize his GOAT leg design in a wide variety of robots, from single legged monopods to bipedal and quadrupedal robots. Future generations of mankind may or may not thank him for his efforts when running for their lives.