7 cool NSF-funded robots that are advancing science and helping society

NYU Tandon robotics led the international team that developed Solo 8, an open-source, low-cost, quadruped robot makes sophisticated robotics available to all

The U.S. National Science Foundation spotlighted Solo 8, supported by the NSF and designed by a team led by Professor Ludovic Righetti at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and including researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen and Stuttgart, Germany. Solo 8 is one of seven NSF-funded robots advancing science and helping society that the NSF showcased during National Robotics Week, April 3-11, 2021.

Robots that mimic the movement capabilities of four-legged animals can go where wheeled robots cannot, making them ideal for use in many applications. However, existing quadruped robot research platforms are expensive to build and maintain, putting them out of reach for many  startups, small labs and educational institutions. Solo 8 is a relatively low-cost, easy-to-assemble research testbed. Why? The robot’s torque-controlled motors and actuated joints provide the functionality of more expensive legged robots, allowing it to take multiple configurations, move with a variety of gaits, jump, make sharp changes in direction, and right itself if overturned. Additionally, all of Solo 8’s construction files are freely available online, enabling scientists to customize the configuration for their own innovative purposes and develop their own technology.