bots IN BRIEF
This robot called "Metallic Vaio 2012" — straight from Japan — has
a style of locomotion that we've never seen before. Instead of using arms
or legs, it's got a sort of combination of both: two long tentacles made
out of chains of servos that it uses to crawl around and rapidly
somersault from place to place.
This robot was built (or should we say invented) by Eiichiro
Morinaga, the guy who founded the ROBO-ONE bipedal humanoid
competition. Besides its name, we know that it apparently has 18 degrees
of freedom, and that it was designed to compete in the 6th KONDO
LAND Multi-Legged Robot Obstacle Race where it took second place.
While Metallic Vaio 2012 may not be the most efficient of robots,
Morinaga has certainly come up with something unique and quite capable
by the looks of it. Adding a simple manipulator to the ends of those tentacles, for example, would create a robot that could
use all those degrees of freedom to grasp stuff as well as to move, although doing both at once would be a little tricky. One
solution might be to just add more tentacles (always a good idea), and sooner or later you'll end up with that octopus robot
you've always wanted.
LEGS TO STAND ON
Dr. M. Anthony Lewis, Director of the Robotics and Neural Systems Lab at the University of Arizona and Theresa J. Klein
(PhD student) have been working on a biarticulate muscle leg model. In a paper published way back in 2008, they described
how motors pulled on stiff tendon-like Kevlar straps to reproduce the action of key muscle groups.
Their new biped robot features an improved leg design that models even more muscles, and it’s already walking (though it
relies on a babywalker-like support for balance). It stands 55 cm ( 22”) tall with the legs fully extended and weighs
approximately 4. 5 kg ( 10 lbs).
A relatively simple motor controller based on a central pattern generator (CPG) produces a rhythmic output, causing the
muscles to essentially flex back and forth. The amazing thing is that a naturalistic walking gait emerges dynamically from the
interaction between its musculoskeletal architecture, its reflex system, and the CPG. Their research suggests the CPG stabilizes
the walking gait against disturbances.
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