Sangbae Kim is a robotics engineer at the Massachusetts Institute Technology (MIT). His fascination with how a cheetah runs leads him to create a mechanical version that can jump, run and absorb shock from the ground. "Discovering You: Engineering Your World" is produced by NBC News Learn in partnership with Chevron, the American Society for Engineering Education and the National Science Foundation.
Discovering You – Engineering Your World - Sangbae Kim
That's pretty good. The body control is pretty good. My name's Sangbae Kim. I'm a robotics engineer. I grew up in South Korea, and like many other kids, I'd been interested in building and taking things apart. I decided to come to the United States to study more about design. And then that's where I not only learned about the design process, but also learned about biology and biomechanics. People get excited about jet fire moving really fast in the air, maybe a submarine moving fast in the water. But it's nothing like a cheetah running in the field. You see these muscles are fluctuating; the bodies are bending like a bow, and then, like, exploding from the surface. I really wanted to create an engineering version, a mechanical version of it. And that's where we started with Cheetah one, designing all based on how can we achieve the maximum speed out of it? If you look at conventional factory robots, they are really, really precise. They are relatively strong. Yet, those robots are not capable of absorbing energy. So there are two motors here for this leg. After three years of research, we eventually developed the highest torque density electric motor in the world that allowed us to build a robot that can jump over obstacles and jump onto a table. Yet, it can absolutely absorb shock every time it hits the ground. Now we are working on version three of Cheetah robot. It's about the size of a big dog in your house. We are envisioning to use this kind of robot to operate in the environment where we don't want to send a human. Maybe in the sewer, maybe a gas leak environment or a high radiation environment. Now we have a smaller version Mini Cheetah, which we intended to use for research. This robot can do a backflip, jump and land and it doesn't break because of the special motor technologies that can absorb shock when it hits the ground. In 2050, we're going to hit this major population misbalance. Like 40 percent of the population will be over 65. Think about the lack of labor that will take care of the older people. It's not going to be this exact robot, but this component technology that can handle shock compared to told conventional robotics. We can use this component technology to help people. I think the creativity, most of the time, is putting things together. Like creativity in art as simple as choose a color and shape, and putting things together to create different emotions, different expressions. And similar thing happens in engineering. There's so many different components you want to put together in a way that has never been done before. And then it does some expression, but also it moves in a different way so that's probably where the creativity really shines.
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