Bucknell engineers are collaborating with researchers from the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition to develop unmanned ground vehicles – smart, walking and rolling robots to assist in military, law-enforcement and rescue missions.

Ultimately, the idea is to deploy the wheeled and two-legged devices in dangerous combat or hazardous field situations instead of humans. The robots will beam intelligence and surveillance information back to their human counterparts, who can stay out of harm's way.

The first challenge, though, is getting the robots moving.

"The goal of our project is to model, analyze and develop a robot that can execute truly dynamic movements such as running, jumping, turning, starting rapidly and stopping suddenly," says Keith Buffinton, professor and recently appointed interim dean of the College of Engineering at Bucknell.

Two of the devices under development, the tBot and a bi-pedal robot, took their first roll and stroll during a recent demonstration in Bucknell's Product Development Laboratory.