Agility Robotics
Cassie the robot in action

Design Insights: Robots Hit the Road; Technology and the Olympics; Technology Building the Olympics

July 28, 2021
A review of the day’s top trending stories from Machine Design editors.

Robots Hit the Road

Running a 5K race in 53 minutes wouldn’t get you a spot on any Olympic team, but Cassie isn’t your typical runner. A biped robot, Cassie is a joint project between Oregon State University and Agility Robots, and as Machine Design reported this week, it involves actually teaching the robot the proper running technique.

And while we can talk all we want about the perceived infallibility of robots, Cassie has two problems common to all runners—the robot needed to be reset after the computer overheated, and it also took a corner too fast and fell.

Technology and the Olympics

Even if robots aren’t quite ready to replace humans on an Olympic track, there’s plenty of technology that goes into the Olympics. That includes not just technology to better measure the athletes and their performances, but also to bring a new perspective back to viewers around the world.

As Machine Design reported in 2016 during the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, technology was used by NBC to better report on and personalize the Olympic experience. It also assisted the event judges in making more accurate decisions on outcomes in sports such as archery, where gold medals are awarded by a matter of centimeters.

Technology Building the Olympics

Looking ahead to the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, the challenge of host countries repurposing existing facilities rather than building from scratch is the same everywhere. To that end, contractors in China are using 3D modeling to move an existing steel facility to remove air pollution from near the Olympic venue.

As Machine Design reported last month, Chinese officials are hoping not only to move the plant, but to improve its impact on its new environment. Using 3D modeling reduces the design cycle by 35 days and cut commissioning cost reductions of 75%. In addition, the digital capability to simulate production is enabling production process improvements. The company estimated a typical operational saving of 60-70% reduction in energy consumption could be achieved by optimizing the operation of a shot blasting machine.

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