I’ve always had a fondness for robotic dogs ever since Sony brought out Aibo.
On a larger scale, Boston Dynamics have created a cross-country pack robot called Big Dog
It manages to cross very rough terrain indeed, all by itself. Today’s invention would allow machines like this to move even more rapidly when following in the footsteps of a human being.
People can run across rough ground using their springy legs and a rapid reaction time (think fell running). Big Dog could achieve a similar performance by spending less time planning each step.
Instead, on very unstable surfaces, the robot would attempt to step on the footprints of someone it was following.
A particular ‘handler’ would attach a labeled, reflective badge to the rear of each boot. These would be detected by a dedicated camera on board the machine in order to indicate appropriate foot placement positions, milliseconds after the human had moved on.