Field of biorobotics is gaining momentum leading to the invention of many artificial animals mimicking their biological counterparts. These man made animal machines are used in different areas. You might have read about the robots which can fly, swim, etc. But the latest robot from the scientists of Johns Hopkins University has four legs like a mammal and is incredibly fast.
With its small built up, it may seem like a kids toy, but the robotic machine can easily scale 18mm obstacles.You can miss the actions of this robot if you blink your eye. Not just being quick, it is equally clever. It can travel about four and a half miles in an hour which is nearly 30 body lengths every second. If you travel at 30 body lengths every second, just like this robot, you would be going 122 miles in an hour.
The fast traveling nature of it can be used in many applications. The unnamed robot is very compressed measuring about 6.5 x 5.5 x 1 centimeters. Researchers claim that it is the fastest legged robot in the world with that size. The legs of robot are not literally the conventional legs as this mammal robot possess wheel legs. They are popularly known as whegs.
Due to the whegs, robots are able to move around quickly in fraction of seconds. The rotary motion going on in the wheels and the legs that has discrete points of contact with the ground enables the best and fastest movement of the machine.
Whegs can be directly driven with conventional motors and allow high speed and efficiency while simultaneously providing robot pull over rough terrain and obstacles. One can easily swap them out and by building them out of flexible materials, the robot can be provided with the required consent.
The robot structure has four independent drive motors, each one is about 6 millimeters in size and the motors output is about 1.5 watts of power at 40,000 Rotation per Minute which drives the individual legs through 16:1 planetary gear heads. Their size may be small, but they are not available at a low cost.
Though they are expensive, these whegs make the robot smaller, lighter, faster, simpler to steer, thus, making it more efficient. However, the current generation of this robot is not capable of taking advantage of all the power that the motors generate. Since the increase in the wheel speed causes the robot to bounce along the ground reducing its actual speed. Even at high pace, it uses only 0.60 watt, which is less than half of the power the motors can really give away.
So swapping the robots whegs with new ones of about 35 mm in length i.e.,nearly twice the length of the current whegs, may produce even faster running speeds and provide the robot with the ability to navigate through very large obstacles or challenging terrain without increasing its minimal size.
The project named “Efficiency and Effectiveness Analysis of a New Direct Drive Miniature Quadruped Robot,” by Christopher Y. Brown, from the Johns Hopkins University, and Dana E. Vogtmann and Prof. Sarah Bergbreiter, from University of Maryland’s Micro-robotics Lab, was presented a month ago at IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Germany.