Science Pub Portland: Designing Robots

Science Pub Portland: Designing Robots event image
APR 18 | 7-9PM

Designing Robots to Walk and Run

With Jonathan Hurst, PhD, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Oregon State University

Doors Open @ 5PM | $5 Suggested Donation

Legged locomotion is a challenging physical interaction task: underactuation, unexpected impacts, and large and rapidly changing forces and velocities are commonplace. Designing passive dynamics, which are generated by the mechanical hardware, and software control algorithms together in tight integration can drastically improve the performance of a machine as measured by efficiency, agility, and robustness to disturbances.


This design philosophy was recently demonstrated on ATRIAS, a bipedal spring-mass robot. The passive dynamics of the hardware match a simple biomechanically-derived spring-mass model, while the software control relies on these passive dynamics as an integrated aspect of the system behavior. ATRIAS walks using approximately 400W of power, accelerates to a run, handles large unexpected obstacles with no prior knowledge of the terrain, and is the first machine to reproduce the dynamics of a human walking gait. In this presentation, we explain our design philosophy, results with ATRIAS, current work on a successor robot Cassie, and plans for commercialization of this technology by Agility Robotics.


Jonathan W. Hurst is an Associate Professor of Robotics in the School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering at Oregon State University, and the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Agility Robotics. He holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and both an M.S. and Ph.D. in Robotics, all from Carnegie Mellon University. His university research focuses on understanding the fundamental science and engineering best practices for legged locomotion. Investigations range from numerical studies and analysis of animal data, to simulation studies of theoretical models, to designing, constructing, and experimenting with legged robots for walking and running.

Dinner will be available in our restaurant, Theory, or from the Empirical Café. Guests can check-in at the theater entrance to reserve a seat before grabbing dinner and drinks. Food and drink are welcome in the theater. Parking is free for the event. Doors open at 5pm


For more information or to sign up for our mailing list, email: