bots IN BRIEF
One of the biggest problems with hopping robots is
keeping them stable. The “hopping rotochute” neatly solves
this problem by using coaxial rotor blades to both jump up
and decelerate back down to the ground. A weighted base and
spherical roll cage keep the robot stable in flight and make sure
that it always lands right-side up, Weeble-style. It’s important to
note that this robot is not designed to be a helicopter per se
(although it can hover), but instead uses a simple movable mass
to control its pitch and direction of travel. This may seem like a
disadvantage, but it saves on complexity and weight, and makes
the bot more efficient. It can jump over obstacles or up to a
perch when it needs to, but the rest of the time, it’s just sitting
there and not expending energy.
There aren’t many details on the future of this robot — a project by Eric Beyer and Mark Costello from the Georgia
Institute of Technology — but it looks to have been funded primarily by the Army. Looks like hopping robots could be the
next big battlefield toy. Go to www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327267.800-army-heliweeble-hops-to-avoid-
rubble-trouble.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=robots for more details.
FILL IT UP!
Here’s a "better late than never" mention. Last year, gas
station owner Nico van Staveren came up with a car fueling
robotic arm that opens the car’s gas cover and unscrews it,
takes the fuel nozzle, and fills up the car. Staveren claims
that he was inspired by a robotic arm milking a cow. The
"Tankpitstops" are in several Dutch stations that can afford
the $111,100 price tag.
WHAT A KICK!
Castrol — one of the sponsors of FIFA World Cup —
has decided that it would be kinda cool to develop the
world’s fastest kicker robot, capable of kicking soccer balls
at over 200 kph, or about 125 mph. The robot — called
Ichi-GO — will be powered by an engine that drives a
flywheel attached to a steel kicking leg. The final concept is,
apparently, for the whole thing to be movable so that it can
take corners, as well as penalty kicks.
Just by way of comparison, the fastest/hardest kick ever
recorded was 114 mph by David Hirst playing for Arsenal in
1996. Typical, really fast kicks travel at more like 80 or 90
mph, so a 125 mph kick is something to watch out for;
22 SERVO 11.2009