Tencent (腾讯) Robotics X Lab, the robotic arm of China’s tech titan, released on June 14 an updated version of its iconic four-legged robot Max.
The lab revealed multiple facelifts it had given the quadrobot in a video released online.
Unlike when its predecessor was unveiled in August 2022, the quadruped, named Max, has shown greater maneuverability and a posture resembling that of a real dog.
Engineers from Robotics X Lab told media that this time around, the robot dog’s improved performance has been a result of pre-trained AI and reinforcement learning.
Specifically, Max has been designed in a way to imitate the gaits and movements of a real dog, including walk, sprint, jump and stand — all showing similar bionic features to the real creature.
All photos courtesy of Tencent
By leveraging these newly acquired skills, the quadruped has come up with ways to complete new tasks, such as proning, jumping over hurdles and bypassing obstacles.
According to researchers, Max has also learned what are called “network metrics” at a strategic level, which allow it to learn rules of game, think, make decisions, and play games like an animal.
This contrasts sharply with when the robot made its appearance last year. Back then, it showcased its capacity to move nimbly and accurately across complex terrains, such as on a pile surface, without falling down or over.
The four-legged robot first came out in 2021, and has received several upgrades along the way to be able to perform stunts like backward somersault — a favorite among quadruped builders.
Notably, the autonomous learning and training of Max was reportedly undertaken entirely in a virtual, computer-simulated environment, instead of a real-world scenario.
The Tencent lab revealed that it will continue to iterate Max, so that it can move more adroitly and jump up higher.
Additionally, the quadruped will be subject to more demanding tasks such as search and rescue to prove and lift its practical value.