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Realistic robot learns to dance the two-step

Koeda's robot can move a lot more realistically than this one can

Compared to models with wheels and other forms of locomotion, bipedal robots are still far behind where they need to be if they're ever to replace humans, but that isn't stopping researchers striving hard to get there.

Over in Japan, Masanao Koeda of Osaka Electro-Communication University has been hard at work improving the gait of his shuffling robot we first saw 18 months ago.

Two-step shuffle

Although it isn't as attention grabbing as the likes of Asimo, Koeda's 'bot has a far niftier turn. By shuffling both feet simultaneously it can move across floors in a smooth fashion that goes a long way to replicating realistic walking.

The machine's feet can distribute their load efficiently while taking account of friction with the floor - a trick that has been notoriously difficult for automata to pull off to date.

Next on the agenda for Koeda will be improving the robot's movements and adding guns with laser sights. We made that last one up.