The Michigan Engineer News Center

CASSIE: A tougher, lighter bipedal robot with eyes

New walking robot based on birds| Short Read
EnlargeTwo robots

A new two-legged robot is coming to Michigan Engineering: the third generation biped in the lab of Jessy Grizzle, whose previous ‘bots have been programmed to walk unassisted over rough terrain and jog a nine-minute mile.

Cassie is the first offering from new startup Agility Robotics, spun out of the lab of Oregon State University’s Jonathan Hurst, who is a longtime collaborator of Grizzle’s. It is loosely modeled on the cassowary, a flightless bird similar to an ostrich. Legs with backward-facing knees attach to a short torso that holds batteries, motors and a pair of computers. U-M is receiving the first unit.

Read more: U-M first in line for new bird-inspired walking robot (Michigan Engineering, 2/9/17)

EnlargeCassie robot
EnlargeCassie with two ostrich

CASSIE’s Legacy: Ostrich-Inspired MARLO and ATRIUS

CASSIE won’t be the first biped in Prof. Grizzle’s lab to walk like a bird. MARLO and her cousin at the University of Oregon, ATRIUS, were modeled after an ostrich: as tall as a person, perched atop scrawny legs, and partially incorporating the mechanics of bird athletics.

Robotic Ostrich to the Rescue (Audubon, 4/27/15)

Grizzle’s History Controlling Robots

Prof. Jessy Grizzle has a long history of working on the control algorithms for different bipedal robots. His main projects have been focused on three previous models, RABBIT, MABEL, and MARLO, each with increasing complexity. MABEL set the record for fastest bipedal robot with knees, and MARLO took that work into the three-dimensional world with free-standing motion. Recently, MARLO mastered the ability to walk on steep inclines and random, uneven terrain.

EnlargeMarlo robot

MARLO, Free-Standing Robot
Has stepped outside and tackled bumpy fields and steep hills.







EnlargeMabel robot

MABEL, the Bipedal Robot
Set the record for fastest bipedal robot with knees.







EnlargeRabbit robot

Run, RABBIT, Run!
Walked unassisted on the first try thanks to Grizzle’s super algorithms.








Robotics at Michigan will soon benefit from a new $75M robotics facility, bringing together the field’s research currently scattered across many different departments. Prof. Grizzle is leading planning for this facility, as well as a separate program in robotics, as Michigan Robotics’ first director.

Read more about Prof. Grizzle’s new position

Read more about the new facility and the role ECE faculty will play there

CASSIE in the News

Michigan Daily – University professor first in line to test transformative robot ‘Cassie” (2/21/2017)

Fox News – VIDEO: U-M to begin experimenting with bird-inspired robot (2/13/2017)

IEEE Spectrum – Video Friday (2/10/2017)

Posted February 23, 2017

Two robots
Cassie robot
Cassie with two ostrich
Marlo robot
Mabel robot
Rabbit robot
Portrait of Catharine June


Catharine June
ECE Communications and Marketing Manager

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

(734) 936-2965

3301 EECS

  • Jessy Grizzle

    Jessy Grizzle

    Elmer G. Gilbert Distinguished University Professor; Jerry W. and Carol L. Levin Professor of Engineering

The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read