Tallahassee Cassie aims to help people walk, relieve first responders

Posted at 5:58 PM, Dec 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-12 17:58:25-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A robot at FAMU/FSU's College of Engineering, may eventually help people who can't walk -- walk again.

And that isn't all.

ABC 27's Ava Van Valen met the robot and Dr. Christian Hubicki, the robotic scientist who created her, to learn more.

The robot's name is Tallahassee Cassie. She's only four feet tall and looks a lot like an ostrich. Dr. Hubicki and his team are using her as a research tool, teaching Cassie to walk, run and move like a human, making her one of the only robots in the world that can do that.

Walking up stairs, onto curbs and over piles of rubble. Most robots can't do that, but Cassie can, and that will eventually help save lives.

"There are all kinds of disaster scenarios where a building might be on fire - where it might be dangerous to have a person run inside, but a robot, it's much simpler," said Dr. Hubicki, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at FAMU/FSU College of Engineering. "We send in a robot they can look for people who might be trapped."

Dr. Hubicki hopes in the future robots like Cassie, can go into those dangerous situations so first responders don't have to risk their lives. He also says every time they learn to make Cassie walk better, they learn more about how humans walk.

"It allows us to study how people and other animals in the world actually walk and it allows us to learn more about ourselves and more about them," said Jason White, a Ph.D research assistant.

Which will help in the advancement of mobility.

"For people who have lost the ability to walk, this tells us something about how to make robotic devices that you can strap on a person and help them walk," said Dr. Hubicki.

Hubicki and his team got Cassie in February. She's still in the preliminary stages. Right now, they are focusing on making Cassie more stable in response to things that the robot can't see.

She can't actually see obstacles. She senses things using sensors, runs on batteries, and is directed by a radio controller.

"I would not be surprised to see these robots in the next five or six years in real life scenarios where we are actually counting on them to help us," said Dr. Hubicki.

And if Dr. Christian Hubicki looks familiar, that's becasue you may remember him from reality television. He was on Season 37 of Survivor: David Versus Goliath Fiji.