skip to content : skip to contact information
 spotlight: robotic turkey gets a spring in its step

From Spring Turkey, MIT's first walking robot, to Troody, the robotic dinosaur, and beyond, MIT is making great strides in robotics

  Home - MIT Researchers at MIT's Leg Laboratory have built a series of legged robots, including one-legged hoppers, bipedal runners, bipedal walkers, a quadruped, and two kangaroo-like robots.

Legged robots may be useful for everything from exploring inaccessible or hazardous locations to providing service or entertainment in the places we live and work. Understanding how humans and other animals walk and run is interesting scientifically and important medically. Leg Lab research has been used to develop a new and improved artificial knee that adapts to terrain, among other applications.

The first walking robot was Spring Turkey, which could only walk in circles attached to the end of a mechanical boom. Later came Troody, a fully autonomous bipedal robot modeled after the dinosaur Troodon, which could walk around on its own. The latest is Butch, a protoceratops, which will simulate a realistic-looking dinosaur with the help of special effects.

Spring Turkey
Spring Turkey (1994-1996) was the first walking robot at MIT's Leg Lab, part of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab. Spring Turkey is a planar bipedal walking robot, designed and built by Peter Dilworth and Jerry Pratt.

The robot was developed as an experimental platform for implementing force control actuation techniques, motion description and control techniques, and various walking algorithms. Spring Turkey was soon followed by Spring Flamingo.

You can visit Spring Turkey at the MIT Museum, as part of the Robots and Beyond exhibit, or visit the website which includes online movies.

Spring Flamingo
Spring Flamingo, also a planar bipedal walking robot, was intended to be more mechanically reliable than Spring Turkey, and also equipped with feet and active ankles. Spring Flamingo achieved a top speed of 1.2 m/s (2.7 mph) and was able to walk on sloped terrain of up to 15 degrees.

The inventors of the Spring Flamingo, have since gone on to found Yobotics, an MIT spin-off. Yobotics makes artificial legs to help disabled people walk, and also as part of legged robots. Some of their previous "leg-work" has gone into the RoboWalker, a powered orthotic brace which augments or replaces muscular functions of the lower extremities.

Troody, a robotic walking dinosaur, is an exploration of the application of walking robot technology to dinosaur robots. Troody is a two legged robot, modeled roughly on the Late Cretaceous dinosaur Troodon. The goal of the robot is to stand up, balance, and walk around. It has onboard batteries, computers, and can operate without external wires for control or power.

Troody was on display at Boston's Museum of Science from June 2001 to March 2002 with the goal of inspiring children to become scientists or engineers.

Read more about Troody from the MIT News Office.

The latest dinosaur robot is a protoceratops named "Butch". Another spinoff from MIT's AI Lab, Dinosaur Robots Inc. has the goal of combining walking robot technology with the science of dinosaurs and biomechanics. In collaboration with a special effects company and well-known paleontologist, researcher Peter Dilworth of MIT's Media Lab, is working to create the world's first truly authentic-looking, walking dinosaur reproduction.

Read more about Butch and Troody in National Geographic.

More information
For more information on Spring Turkey, Troody, or Butch, contact researcher Peter Dilworth at

Visit the MIT News Office for news on other Robotics and AI projects at MIT.
  Spring Turkey
Spring Turkey: watch a video of the robot walking


Spring Flamingo
Spring Flamingo: watch a video of the robot walking over a small ramp


Troody: watch the first video of Troody walking


Butch: Researchers are working with special effects to make an authentic-looking, walking robotic protoceratops