Photo by numbacruncha2, via Flickr.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the unveiling of Troody, a bipedal robot based on Troodon formosus developed by Peter Dilworth of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab. Dilworth was concerned with solving the problems of bipedal locomotion in robots, and in a canny move to draw attention to his work and get youth interested in robotics, he chose to work on the theropod body plan. Gregory S. Paul served as his consultant.
In a Scientific American article from July of that year, Dilworth discusses the challenges of creating a bipedal robot that moves in a biologically believable way.
With one look at Troody's smooth movements... it is clear that the researchers have succeeded. "A lot of people comment on how it [Troody] looks very biological," Dilworth says. "That's one thing that I strive for, and it's a result of the way we do the control system in the robot, a technique which uses springs in series with the motors, which softens the way the robot feels."Later in the article, Dilworth expresses his hope to improve on Troody, creating more life-like, feathered version. These plans haven't panned out. Another prototype robot, this time a Protoceratops named Butch, was produced by Dilworth's Dinosaur Robots Inc., a company he founded to create attractions for museums and other exhibit venues. Paul and Hall Train Studios participated in the venture as well, but the site is inactive, and I can't find any media references to Butch from after 2004 or so. Dilworth is currently working in the toy industry at WowWee, the makers of Robosapien and Roboraptor. Troody is living out her retirement as part of the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination traveling exhibit, which is currently scheduled to open in Seattle in March.
A video accompanied Gizmodo's 2006 post about Troody. It's eight minutes long. If you feel the need to spice it up a bit (and I would totally understand why), go ahead and simultaneously play the video of Giorgio Moroder's "Moody Trudy," included below. It's only a couple minutes long, so you'll have to replay it a few times to make it through. The video is pretty dry, but with Moroder's little bubblegum ditty as accompaniment, it's delightful!
More on Troody: NatGeo, Hizook, MIT.