Robotic legs that mimic flightless working birds like emus and use simply two motors per leg can run extra effectively than extra advanced units


16 March 2022

Robotic legs with an unconventional design impressed by emus can run 300 per cent extra effectively than the identical system would if designed historically. The expertise may very well be utilized in prosthetics and exoskeletons, say its inventors.

Alexander Badri-Spröwitz on the Max Planck Institute for Clever Methods in Stuttgart, Germany, and his colleagues have accomplished away with the standard strategy the place each joint in a robotic limb has one actuator to open it and one to contract it. As a substitute, their BirdBot makes use of simply two motors in every 3D-printed leg and lengthy synthetic tendons that cowl a couple of joint, mimicking the anatomy of sure birds which have misplaced the flexibility to fly and as a substitute developed to run effectively alongside the bottom.

“We’re utilizing simply two actuators, one to maneuver the leg again and ahead, and one to carry it. Simply the naked minimal required,” says Badri-Spröwitz. “Often in robotics, you’re seeking to enhance effectivity by simply 10 per cent or so, however we’re seeing a 300 per cent improve.”

The motors pull the tendons. Energy is saved in a spring throughout compression and launched when every foot strikes the ground, to assist drive the robotic ahead.

Taking many actuators, sensors and electronics out of the system makes the robotic lighter and cheaper to fabricate. It could actually additionally stand upright utilizing no energy.

The BirdBot reached a velocity of 75 centimetres per second in checks on a treadmill. Guides are at the moment required to maintain the robotic working straight and true, however the focus of the analysis was effectivity, not steadiness, says Badri-Spröwitz.

BirdBot's leg mechanics are automatically water proof; all motors are located in the robot's trunk, far away from its feet. Here the mechanics that produce joint torques, tendon forces, and ground contact are water-proof. Theoretically, BirdBot could walk through water (possible future work).

BirdBot standing in a pond

DLG MPI-IS and UC Irvine

Shival Dubey on the College of Leeds within the UK says the design is extra environment friendly than extra advanced units, however may be much less adaptable on the subject of carrying a great deal of various weight.

“In conventional leg robots, we use actuators at every joint with a purpose to transfer that individual joint. They’re utilizing much less vitality compared to that and fewer digital parts,” he says. “They’ve accomplished job in demonstrating or replicating the motion of the fowl, however doing different duties will want additional fine-tuning.”

Journal reference: Science Robotics, DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.abg4055

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