According to University of Delaware assistant professor Ioannis Poulakakis, a large fraction of the Earth’s surface remains inaccessible to conventional wheeled or tracked vehicles, while animals and humans traverse such terrain with ease and elegance. He believes that legs have the potential to extend the mobility of robots, enabling them to become useful in real-world situations, such as search and rescue.
UD's Ioannis Poulakakis is investigating control strategies in four-legged running robots like this one as part of a new National Science Foundation grant. Pictured is Scout II, a robot on which he worked while a graduate student at McGill University.
Poulakakis is the principal investigator of a three-year, $265,532 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a family of systematic control strategies that work together with the robot’s natural dynamics to generate fast, reliable and efficient running motions.
The project, funded under NSF’s Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI), will focus on the running motion of quadrupeds (four-legged robots) with elastic energy storage elements such as springs.
“Biomechanics research demonstrates that springs and running are intimately related. When you run,” Poulakakis explains, “the knee of the leg that is on the ground initially bends and then extends to prepare the body for take-off. During knee bending, energy is stored in elastic elements such as tendons or muscle fibers. Then, this energy is released during knee extension, pushing the body upward and forward.”
In other words, when animals run, they "tune" their musculoskeletal system so that their center of mass appears to be moving as if following the motion of a pogo-stick.
Using this hypothesis as inspiration, Poulakakis suggests the same theory can be applied to robots because the pogo-stick is an example of a simple mechanical system that can be studied using the basic laws of physics. In particular, the proposed research involves developing similar systematic "energy-saving" controls that can replicate this natural, intuitive running phenomenon in robots through feedback design, rather than through hardware redundancy.
If successful, the work would enable quadrupeds to move reliably at high speeds, self-correct to prevent falls and mimic their animal counterpart’s running motion.
Under the grant, Poulakakis will develop:-models of locomotion behavior;
-student education and engineering research experiences for K-12 teachers designed to inspire the next generation of engineers.
Robotic quadrupeds offer unique advantages due to their enhanced stability, high-load carrying capacity and low mechanical complexity. Their ability to travel to areas deemed unsafe for humans, Poulakakis believes, may also enable legged robots to provide critical assistance in search and rescue operations, and may have potential applications in industrial, agricultural and military industries.
The fundamental results of this work, however, are expected to apply to dynamically-stable legged robots with different leg numbers and postures.
“If successful, this research effort will impact the study of many other engineered and biological systems which, like legged robots, accomplish their purpose through forceful, cyclic interactions with the environment.”
About the researcher
Ioannis Poulakakis joined UD in 2010 as an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. His expertise lies in formal control synthesis for hopping robot models and on intuitive control design for quarupedal running machines. He previously served as a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University.
Poulakakis earned his doctoral degree in electrical engineering systems and his master of science degree in applied mathematics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He also holds a master of engineering degree from McGill University in Montreal and a master of science in robotics and automation from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, where he also earned his diploma in mechanical engineering.
He is the author of 23 journal publications, book chapters and refereed conference papers.
Andrea Boyle Tippett | Newswise Science News
Perovskite-silicon solar cell research collaboration hits 25.2% efficiency
15.06.2018 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie GmbH
Second heat source optimises heat pump system
12.06.2018 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...
Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
18.06.2018 | Earth Sciences
18.06.2018 | Process Engineering
18.06.2018 | Life Sciences