SERVO 06.2015 61
Continued from page 15 Bots in Brief
Who knew we needed a robotic jerboa? Apparently, the University of Pennsylvania did. A jerboa is sort of like a gerbil, except crossed with a
kangaroo — at least as far as mobility is concerned. Jerboas bounce around
on two absurdly long legs in what seems like a very dynamic and efficient
type of motion — especially if you take the tail into account.
Avik De, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, decided
to try and build one based on the venerable RHex hexapod platform:
“My first thought was to build a robot that runs like RHex on two legs.
So, full of visions of the running velociraptors in Jurassic Park, I set out to create a
robot with a powerful tail and two RHex-like legs.”
Well, this is not really that robot. This robot only has actuated hips —
not legs — plus a tail that it can move up and down. The legs have a spring,
and by actuating the tail in a sort of anti-damping motion, the springs can
be compressed causing the robot to jump due entirely to the motion of
the tail. Basically, the tail is driving the legs.
The tail idea in general comes from UC Berkeley, but this is likely the
first time a tail has been used in this particular way on a robot.
UPenn sees its jerboa robot as a platform that can be used to
investigate all kinds of locomotion, including “sitting, standing, walking,
hopping, running, turning, leaping, and more.” Based on what they’ve done
with RHex as a research platform, expect some acrobatics.
Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of Cliff via Flickr.