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Robotics Hardware

Experimenting With Robotic Movement 23

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-avoid-scuttling-and-slithering dept.
kodiaktau writes "Roboticists with EPFL are playing with new methods of locomotion for robots, modeled after grasshoppers, bats and other non-traditional forms of movement, including leaping and gliding."

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Experimenting With Robotic Movement

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  • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @07:50PM (#38509648) Homepage

    Looks more like jumpcrashing to me.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by Ferzerp (83619)

      It can't be very efficient at all. You can see the lost energy with the bounceback as it slams in to the ground after moving only a few inches.

      • I think the kids working on this project should audit a aviation ground school class; the issues of successfully landing are covered there extensively. Throw in some Piezo Transducers for object feedback, and some redesigning the wings to change "angle of attack" for SLOWING DOWN, and this project could start to show some promise.

        To the kids on this project, "don't give up, complete it." You're heading in the right direction.
    • by Zerth (26112)

      I think somebody wanted to disprove that old saw about frogs not bumping their asses if only they had wings.

    • by syousef (465911)

      Looks more like jumpcrashing to me.

      It is in the tradition of all experimenting with robotic movement - reminiscent of a slashdot user at a boy-girl dance ;-)

    • An object which with relative ease can go down a slope or staircase, but has no chance in hell to get back upstairs? Mmmm, interesting, but might meet stiff competition from this other wonderful robot called "rubber ball"...
  • "... modeled after grasshoppers, bats and other non-traditional forms of movement, including leaping and gliding."

    I suspect that grasshoppers and bats might find these forms of movement to be pretty traditional indeed.

    • by Fned (43219)

      Non-traditional amongst roboticists, probably.

    • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @08:29PM (#38510096)

      Fned is correct. Most robots you see today are known as fully actuated systems. Examples of fully actuated sytems are robotic arms or differential drive robots, or even most humanoid robots. The reason for this control of a fully actuated systems is relatively easy and predictable; given a configuration of a fully actuated robot, we can transition the robot to any other state within its state space. This is why most humanoid robots don't look right when they walk; they strive to retain full control authority and balance at every step, whereas human's are really in a constant state of imbalance as we walk.

      The problem is all the very interesting systems out there are under actuated, like the walking human. That is, they have more degrees of freedom than ways of exerting control. In nature, things like birds, fish, insects, and even bats and grasshoppers are under actuated. They have extraordinary mobility, but our robotic equivalents fail miserably. I think it's safe to say that most of the exciting problems in motion planning and control in robotics are in the area of underactuated systems.

      • The problem I see as most compelling in robotics of ANY form, is the Battery. All of these robotic designs have been around for years. But the choke point to date is the energy container, the battery. Until this bottleneck is expanded, then these other designs will always end, with a question.
        • Biologicals make due with significantly less power than our current batteries provide. We are incredibly efficient at reclaiming kinetic energy. Robotics should do the same.

  • I for one welcome our new jump gliding robotic overlords.
  • Armed military robots bunny hopping and dolphin diving over a battlefield.
    • Armed military robots bunny hopping and dolphin diving over a battlefield.

      Check out the Precision Urban Hopper [youtube.com] from Boston Dynamics. This is a successor to a White Sands project for mobile land mines. Those were spheres with a fuel-powered piston that could launch them a few meters. This is a wheeled vehicle which can jump, but crash lands, which it can tolerate.

      The theory of jumping locomotion is interesting, and I once did some work on that in the mid 1990s. [youtube.com] (See the kangaroo at the end.) Most locomotion is treated as maintaining some kind of stability, but that won't handle

      • After viewing the youtube clip my first reaction was that it would have been useful if the feedback sensors would be mounted on the craft. Possibly on the next prototype? Maybe the kids doing the project should ask their mentors about the mechanics of a Polaroid Land Camera. Then come back and demo their craftsmanship in the field of work that their journeymanship will be in. All in all, a nice demo.
  • by Spiked_Three (626260) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @04:09AM (#38512952)
    This post has been up for hours, and there are 17 comments. Robotics is so dead it isn't funny. Reminds me of AI in the 80's - it's taken 30 years for it to make some comeback. Same thing will happen in robotics. Check back in 25 years. The processing power just isn't there at the moment. And yes it takes a ton of processing power to do anything useful with 3D images - like reacting fast enough and in a way that doesn't kill humans. Plenty of toys at the moment following black lines on the floor, but until we can process images quickly, robotics isn't going anywhere. It will be stuck in university research for many years. BTW, researching nature IS probably a good idea - and when a 1/4 lb computer can process as well as a grasshopper we might be making progress. We can't even do it with a 1 ton computer at this time.
    • by mbone (558574)

      and when a 1/4 lb computer can process as well as a grasshopper we might be making progress. We can't even do it with a 1 ton computer at this time.

      The scary thing is that I can remember people saying the same thing 30 years ago.

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