bots IN BRIEF
24 SERVO 09.2015
EXPLOSIVE JUMPING — LITERALLY
The Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory team in collaboration with UCSD researchers has completed a redesign of a robot that can
jump and land upright. What’s especially cool is how they did it: with
a multimaterial 3D printer that lets them fabricate a robot with the
optimal combination of soft and rigid structures.
It’s an actual butane-oxygen explosion that gets the bot off the
ground. On top of the robot, there’s a core module with a custom
circuit board, a high voltage power source, a battery, a miniature air
compressor, a butane fuel cell, six solenoid valves, an oxygen cartridge
and pressure regulator, and ducts to move the gas and stuff around as
necessary. To jump, the robot first aims itself by selectively inflating
one or more of its pneumatic legs to point its body in the direction that it wants to go. Then, it
fills its body with a mixture of oxygen and butan and ignites itself — which rapidly expands the
flexible bottom of the robot to launch it into the air. The robot can jump more than 20 times
in a row, reaching 0.75 meters in height (six times its own height) and 0.15 meters laterally.
Different parts of the robot grade over three orders of magnitude from stiff-like plastic to
squishy-like rubber, through the use of nine different layers of 3D printed materials. For the
main hemispherical chamber in the body of the robot (the bit that pops), for example, the top
is stiffer to allow the core module to attach and to help transfer the energy of the explosion
to the bottom of the hemisphere which is the bit that expands downward to launch the robot.
Going too rigid would cause the robot to smash into tiny bits on impact, and too squishy
would reduce the efficiency of the jumps.
EXO-LENT WALKING ASSISTANCE
The Personal 6.0 Exoskeleton from Re Walk Robotics is the company’s ixth generation product that is designed for people who suffer spinal
This FDA-approved exoskeleton offers the fastest walking speed (up
to 1.6 MPH) and the most precise fit of any Re Walk exoskeleton to date.
The battery-powered system features a light,wearable exoskeleton
with motors at the hip and knee joints. The Re Walker controls
movement using subtle changes in the user’s center of gravity. A forward
tilt of the upper body is sensed by the system, which initiates the first
step. Repeated body shifting generates a sequence of steps that mimics a
functional natural gait of the legs.
The Personal 6.0 Exoskeleton is fitted to the user’s measurements
and custom ordered for each individual. This precise fit enhances system
function, safety, and alignment of the person’s joints. It also doesn’t have a
backpack (like previous versions) to eliminate weight from the shoulders
and give freedom for clothing choice and movement. The sleek redesign
of the strapping and padding provides users with an easier and faster
capacity to put the system on and take it off.
Image courtesy of Wyss
Institute and Harvard
School of Engineering and