GENOA, Italy (Reuters) – Centauro the robot, with four legs, a short torso and two upper arms, edges forward with Tai chi-like grace before lowering its arms, lifting up a six kg block and effortlessly moving it out of the way.
The robot, modeled on the mythical centaur, has been developed by researchers at the IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italian Institute of Technology), in the hope that it may one day play a vital role in disaster relief efforts.
Like the fabled creature, it has a humanoid-like upper section with two arms able to manipulate and move objects, while the quadrupedal lower half is capable of robust locomotion on uneven terrain.
Standing 1.5 meters tall and weighing in at 93 kgs, the anthropomorphic Centauro is designed to work in man-made environments and manipulate human tools, though with much greater strength.
Its hybrid system combines legged and wheeled mobility, enabling it to navigate in a range of environments.
Centauro has cameras, computer vision sensors and a Lidar scanner in its head to help it make sense of the environment and relay information back to its human operators.
The Centauro is currently tele-operated, but researchers are hoping to give it greater autonomy to work on its own. It will then be tested in real-world scenarios such as damaged buildings or industrial environments too dangerous for humans to venture into.
The project is led by Nikos Tsagarakis, who previously developed the humanoid robot WALK-MAN, and funded by the European Commission and co-ordinated by the University of Bonn in Germany.
Writing by Matt Stock; Editing by Hugh Lawson