- UCLA’s humanoid robot BALLU is a helium balloon outfitted with a pair of thin articulated legs with only one degree of freedom at the knees.
- This lightweight bot can walk forward and backward, step sideways, turn, hop, and even walk on water, and its creators are already planning future versions.
When you think of robots, you might start thinking about robot workers that are taking jobs or killer robots taking lives. But robots aren’t all intimidating. Just look at BALLU. This humanoid robot is essentially a walking blimp designed to “change the direction of gravity,” allowing it to walk and never fall over.
BALLU, or Buoyancy Assisted Lightweight Legged Unit, was designed by UCLA’s Robotics Mechanisms Laboratory and unveiled at the 2016 IEEE International Conference on Humanoid Robots. It is a helium balloon outfitted with a pair of thin articulated legs with only one degree of freedom, at the knees.
BALLU has actuators, communications, and power components at its feet, which gives it a lot of stability. The robot can walk forward, walk backward, step sideways, turn, hop, and even walk on water and land from a fall as gracefully as a cat. Its construction allows it to be lightweight, low cost, and inherently safe.
Right now, BALLU is more of a walking information bot than anything else, but the video the creators showed hints at future versions, including one that can carry more weight, one that has arms and legs, and another that can carry bigger loads. We’ll just have to wait to see how this humanoid bot evolves.