Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Running Robots

01.02.2012
A cheetah running in its natural environment is an elegant, fluid display of biomechanics. What if robots could run the same way, and be deployed for search and rescue operations in areas where conventional vehicles cannot go?

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;
-analytical methods to rigorously characterize cyclic motion generation and stability of quadrupedal running gaits;
-constructive control techniques and systematic control law design tools that minimize laborious, trial-and-error experimentation;
-verification procedures to test the controllers in a variety of running gaits; and

-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
Further information:
http://www.udel.edu

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht A big nano boost for solar cells
18.01.2017 | Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies

nachricht Multiregional brain on a chip
16.01.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>