20 SERVO 02.2014
AMAZING FROM ANY ANGLE
Cubli is a cube that can jump up, balance, and walk
across your desk. The latest version of the Cubli (from
the Institute of Dynamic Systems) can jump up, balance,
and even “walk.”
It is self-contained with respect to power, and uses
three slightly modified bicycle brakes instead of the
metal barriers used in the previous version. IDS is
currently developing learning algorithms that allow the
Cubli to automatically learn and adjust the necessary
parameters if a jump fails due to the deterioration of
the brakes, and changes in inertia, weight, or slope of
There are multiple ways to keep a cube in balance,
but jumping up requires a sudden release of energy. So,
intuitively, momentum wheels seemed like a good idea
to store enough energy while still keeping the cube
compact and self-contained.
Furthermore, the same momentum wheels can be used to implement a
reaction-torque based control algorithm for balancing by exploiting the
reaction torques on the cube’s body when the wheels are accelerated or
GOOGLE GONE TO THE DOGS
As you’ve most likely heard by now, Boston Dynamics — the company
famous for robots like BigDog, LS3, Petman, Atlas, and WildCat — has been
swallowed up by Google.
Recently, news broke that Google had acquired seven robotics startups
and that Andy Rubin, the Google engineer who spearheaded the
development of Android, is leading this new robots effort at the company.
Google was said to be interested in using robots not for consumer
applications but rather in logistics, manufacturing, and related activities.
Details, however, were scarce, and Google's robotics plan remains a mystery.