A four-legged robot built by Chinese researchers just walked 83 miles on a single battery charge, more than doubling the previous record for longest distance covered by a quadruped robot. Xingzhe (or "Walker") No. 1 resembles the design of the Cornell-built Ranger robot that traveled 41 miles for the record in 2011: two pairs of legs that swing past each other in turns, shifting the weight of the robot forward and producing a highly efficient gait.
Li Qindu, a professor with the College of Automation under the Chongqing University of Post and Telecommunications, began the research in November 2014, with the intention of studying and improving ambulatory robots' efficiency, durability and reliability.
This type of robot, however, can only navigate flat terrain: It traveled its entire 83 miles over 1,405 laps of an indoor track on a gym floor. It cannot intelligently maneuver around obstacles, like the robots in this year's Robotics Challenge (though to be fair, those had trouble getting around too). And for stability, a frame like BigDog or Spot's is probably a better bet. But all those robots have much to learn from Xingzhe No. 1 when it comes to longevity and energy efficiency.