Walking on two legs is one of the hardest ways to travel. Few creatures do it in nature, and when humans have made walking robots, the two-legged ones tend to fall down a lot. What if, instead of carefully calibrated bodies, a walking robot was simply built around a torso that defied gravity?
And bounce down stairs.
BALLU was made by Dennis Hong at UCLA's Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory. The robot is at the early stages of development, and is as much a proof-of-concept of a balloon based machine as anything else. IEEE Spectrum even describes it as “more like a hybrid airship than a blimp: It's not lighter than air, so it doesn't float by itself, and requires some assistance (legs, in this case) for support and to control its motion.” It's a fascinating approach to bipedal robots, and it comes with a whole new set of constraints. Because of how light it is, BALLU is unlikely to carry much more than a simple, extremely light electronics. Don't expect it to start shelving boxes or sweeping up a warehouse any time soon.
Watch the video, with its odd horror-movie inspired editing and soundtrack, below: