History of Passive Dynamics and Toys

Passive Dynamic robots were invented and initially developed by aeronautical engineer Tad McGeer between 1988 and 1992, as inspired by simpler calculations from a decade earlier of Tom McMahon at Harvard and McMahon's student Simon Mochon. McMahon, in turn, had been inspired by a toy he was given in the early 1950s, probably a "Wilson Walkie".

VIDEO: McGeer's First Walker With Knees (MOV) (13.8 MB)

The McGeer video shows the first time he tried a walker with knees, and then the first time he got it to walk without falling.

Old patents of walking toys (PDF)

Fallis, 1888 | Bechstein, 1912 | Mahan, 1914 | Allison, 1916 | Wilson, 1938 | Paolo, 1993
Want to make your own Wilson (1938) Walkie? Here's how
(by Matt Haberland, Cornell M-Eng 2007)
VIDEO: Steinkamp talk at Cornell in Dec 2008 of table top locomotion (MOV) (44.1MB)
Screen shot of video
Link to more videos at Peter Steinkamp's passive toys and machines

McGeer Papers

Passive walking with knees (PDF)

McGeer, T.
IEEE International conference on Robotics and Automation, 3, 1640-1645, 1990

Passive dynamic walking (PDF)

McGeer, T.
IJRR, Vol. 9, No. 2, 62-82, 1990

Passive Bipedal running (PDF)

McGeer, T.
Proc Roy Soc London B 240, No. 1297, 107-134, 1990

Passive Dynamic biped catalogue (PDF)

McGeer, T.

Principles of walking and running (PDF)

McGeer, T.
Chapter 4, Advances in Comparative and Environmental Physiology, Vol 11, Springer-Verlag, 1992

Dyanamics and control of bipedal locomotion (PDF)

McGeer, T.
J. Theoretical Biology, 163, 277-314, 1993

Last edits by Jen Cheu 6/16/09