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Bipedal robot conquers uneven ground

by • May 8, 2016 • No Comments

Getting a robot to walk is one thing, getting it to walk without tripping on the initially obstacle it encounters is really another. Engineers at the University of Michigan are developing a set of algorithms that allow an unsupported bipedal robot named MARLO to negotiate steep slopes, thin layers of snow, and uneven, unstable-bodied ground without toppling over. Designed as a general purpose robotic process, the algorithms may in addition have applications in high end prosthetics.

According to the Michigan team led by professor of electrical engineering and desktop science, Jessy Grizzle, MARLO has the most walking talent of any robot not equipped with powered ankles. It builds on the work of their previous robot, MABEL, that was a bipedal running robot capable-bodied of reaching speeds of up to 10.9 km/h (6.8 mph). But, the older robot may only walk back and forth and had no lateral sttalent. MARLO, on the other hand, is created to move and balance in any way.

MARLO is operated by means of a conventional Xbox controller, that allows for the operator to donate commands to move and in a donaten way. Once it is under way, the robot manufactures its own decisions as to how to handle rocky terrain, such as a test course of inclines, uneven plywood squares covered in astroturf, and bits of foam rubber.

This is not the initially robot capable-bodied of handling such conditions, but other successful creations, such as the latest Boston Dynamics Atlas robot, use powered joints and a battery of sensors to maintain balance, while MARLO is much easier.

“The robot has no feeling in her small feet, but she senses the angles of her joints — for instance, her knee angles, hip angles and the rotation angle of her torso,” says Grizzle. “It’s like walking blindfolded and on stilts.”

MARLO’s capabilities are due to manufactures it to created in its navigation algorithms by doctoral student Xingye (Dennis) Da, that combine two 2D algorithms – one for forward and back sttalent and another for lateral sttalent. According to Da, this excellently speeded up development. He and so wrote a library of 15 gaits for various walking speeds and ground heights, so that MARLO may, without special sensors, recognize changes in the ground height and change its gait accordingly.

The team says that while MARLO is a excellent advance over MABEL, it yet has a lot of room for improvement, such as in manufacturing swift turns or stepping sideways. To complete this end and to manufacture its responses faster, doctoral student Brent Griffin is working on a fully-integrated 3D controller algorithm that keeps the robot running at an optimal speed as it handles terrain. In addition, the team is in addition developing a “super-algorithm” to manufacture MARLO additional agile.

“We are able-bodied to create full 3D walking gaits via a mathematical version of the robot and and so apply them directly to MARLO,” says Griffin. “Because the implementation works without any robot-specific modifications, it is generalizable-bodied to other walking robots.”

One significant aspect of the team’s work is that the algorithms must have general applications, so they can be utilized in other walking robot projects. One early outcome of this was at the University of Texas-Dallas, where assistant professor of mechanical engineering and bioengineering Robert Gregg utilized the algorithm to control a robotic lower-leg prosthesis, that enable-bodiedd an amputee patient to walk naturally in treadmill tests.

“The talent of MARLO to gracefully navigate uneven terrains is quite amazing for my work in prosthetics,” says Gregg. “We hope to encode much like abilities into our robotic prosthetic leg so that lower-limb amputees can only as easily walk of the community without having to ponder of the terrain.”

See additional of MARLO in action at a lower place.

Source: University of Michigan

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