Making Legs For Future Robotic Animal Assistants
University of South Florida computer engineer Luther Palmer is working on one of the big problems in robotics—creating legs that can move over all different types of terrain that a machine would find out in the real world. His team at the Biomorphic Robotics Lab is doing intensive computer modeling and taking tips from horses and humans on agile locomotion.
The team’s vision, like many other roboticists, is to imbue the best movement ideas developed through evolution into their machines. Palmer writes on his lab’s website that in the future, “robotic canines will gallop up stairs and over collapsed beams in burning buildings, locating occupants for rescue personnel.”
He also sees a time of robotic horses to carry heavy loads, cockroaches to conduct surreptitious surveillance and gophers to prepare alien worlds for human habitation.
See the National Science Foundation video and one for Palmer’s RecoRoach below.
Besides active control of limbs through muscle-like actuators, they are also investigating passive systems of energy storage, release and shock absorption naturally found in ligaments and tendons. They say their work could be useful in search-and-rescue missions, military operations, drug delivery and extraterrestrial exploration.
All gifs created from Youtube video courtesy of National Science Foundation.