Sunday 21 September 2014

MIT Cheetah Robot Gets Enables through New Algorithm to Run and Jump

Cheetah Robot
Cheetah is known for its speed and agility. With the accelerated speed of up to 60 mph in few seconds it is known to be the fastest land predator on earth. It has the ability to pump its legs in tandem when in top speed, bounding until it is able to reach a full gallop.

At the moment the researchers from MIT have worked and developed an algorithm for bounding, which they have been able to successfully able to implement it inside a robotic cheetah. This robotic cheetah is a sleek, which is a four legged assembly of gears, batteries and electric motor that weighs almost similar to the feline counterpart.

The research team was able to take the robot for a test run on the Killian Court of MIT, where the robotic cheetah was able to across the grass with a stable clip. When the experiment was conducted indoors, the cheetah was able to sprint to 10 mph and still continued running after clearing the hurdle. According to the researcher, the current version of this robot is estimated to reach to a speed of 30 mph.

Bounding Key: 

The key to the algorithm was to program each leg to exert a specific force in split second at time of hitting the ground and to maintain speed. In general faster the speed the more force is required for propelling the robot faster.

According to Sangbae Kim, an associate professor at MIT mechanical engineering department, force-control approach applied to the robot is the same as that of sprinters race. As per him due to this approach the robotic cheetah is able to handle the rougher terrain which includes jumping across a grassy field.

He also stated that since most of the robots are heavily built they are unable to handle and control the force in high speed scenarios. This is what makes the MIT cheetah extraordinary as the force can be easily controllable. The cheetah is dynamic because of the electric motor which has been designed by Jeffrey Lang who is Vitesse Professor of Electrical Engineering and the custom design. These motors have been designed to be controlled by amplifier which was designed by David Otten who research engineer in MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics.

Towards the main gait: 

The act of running has been parsed into various bio mechanically different gaits. The first model chosen by the researcher involves the actions similar to that of rabbits. In this the bounding has been categorized in terms of the front legs hitting the ground together which is followed by the movement of the hind legs.

According to Kim, bounding is the entry gait and galloping is the main gait. Once bounding has been reached, one can split the legs to get galloping.

In general when an animal bound, their legs will touch the ground before they start the cycling process within second’s gap. In bio mechanics, the percentage of time the legs is on the ground rather than the air is known as duty cycle. The speed of the animal determines the duty cycle.

According to Kim, their robotic cheetah can be silent as well as be efficient like an animal. The only thing one can hear is the legs hitting the ground. This should be expected from any legged robot in future.

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