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Walking Robot Breaks Distance Record

While it looks more like a toaster with legs than Usain Bolt, Cornell University’s Ranger robot has set some track records all the same. On July 6, Ranger set a world record for untethered robotic walking, traveling 14.3 miles in only 11 hours.

Guided by students with a remote control, Ranger navigated 108.5 times around the Barton Hall indoor track, about 212 meters per lap, and made about 70,000 steps before it had to stop and recharge. The 14.3-mile record beats the former world record set by Boston Dynamics' BigDog, which had claimed the record at 12.8 miles.

Previously, Cornell students set a record for a robot walking untethered in April 2008, when Ranger strode about 5.6 miles around the Barton Hall track. Boston Dynamics' BigDog subsequently beat that record.

One goal for robotic research is to show off the machine's energy efficiency. Unlike other walking robots that use motors to control every movement, the Ranger appears more relaxed and in a way emulates human walking, using gravity and momentum to help swing its legs forward.

The information could be applied to rehabilitation, prostheses for humans and improving athletic performance.

Stuart Fox currently researches and develops physical and digital exhibit experiences at the Science Liberty Center. His news writing includes the likes of several Purch sites, including Live Science and Live Science's Life's Little Mysteries.