Bipedal anthropomorphic robots overview. Vol.1
Expert forecasts outline the Robotics as one of the most promising areas of development of global technologies. As soon as in 2020, robots will become one of those real innovations able to transform the world.
Today we will talk about the achievements of the world’s most exciting field of robotics – the development of bipedal anthropomorphic robots (i.e. human-like robots). Described by science fiction writers, we imagine them just like that when we think of a word “robot”, man’s assistant.
The reasons for developing bipedal and manlike robots include the following:
- Ability to operate in environment created for people
- Manlike ability of walking on surfaces
- Similarity to the human constitution and versatility to perform people’s daily tasks.
- Performing tasks in a manner of man. In the long run they will do it even better and faster.
- Perform tasks when exposed to hazards and in dangerous to the human environment.
- Bipedal robots fit into the concept of an anthropomorphic vision of robots, therefore, they are positively perceived by the people from a psychological point of view and safety.
- The use of the most advanced dynamic control algorithms for walking task allows the rapid development of the field, the introduction and implementation of new technologies, including their application in other corporate projects.
Valuable features of bipedal robots include:
- Task performance versatility
- Similarity to man
- Capability of moving on rough surfaces, stairs, slopes, rocks
Over the past two decades, developers and scientists have been able to introduce considerable number of projects of bipedal robots, but they are still very far from perfect, so there is still a lot of difficult and interesting achievements to accomplish.
This area combines a whole range of sciences and technologies – from theoretical mechanics to machine learning – the full list of which deserves a separate article.
In this vol.1 of my review, I would like to describe some of the most interesting, from my point of view, projects and technologies developed in the USA.
Let’s start with the robot, which was first taught to be shockproof. Meet Sarcos, developed by the Carnegie Mellon University, USA. Its special feature is the motion control algorithm based on the management of drives in the moment loop. This allows for motion control system similar to the human movement concept and for teaching the robot to keep the balance as people do.
Robot Sarcos, Carnegie Mellon University
The most advanced technologies in robot motion are implemented by Boston Dynamics company. These robots are well known for a variety of publications and videos. Their distinctive feature is a so-called dynamic motion control algorithm, closest to the principles of human balance retention. Behind this algorithm there are basic movement strategies used by people: retaining balance by controlling the moment in foot joints, balance techniques based upon creation of rotary counterbalance moments, strategy of overstepping towards the direction of losing the balance.
Here are only the pictures of robots since video is widely available on the search.
Atlas series robots (on the left) and the 4-legged BigDog and LS3 (on the right) by Boston Dynamics
One of the difficulties in the implementation of dynamic movement is the increased power consumption due to the use of hydraulic drives and the need for their independent functioning. Researchers at Stanford Research Institute, USA, are working on improving the energy efficiency of robots with hydraulic drives of the major joints. They claim that their robot PROXI’s (evolved from the earlier one – DURUS) energy efficiency indicators are up to 20 times better compared to similar solutions. One more interesting thing about it is the use of a hydraulic cushioning system in the robot’s feet, which you can see on the videos.
NASA also conducts an interesting research, designing a robot for the mission to Mars. The robot is called Valkyrie, and is characterized by an extensive system of sensors and cameras used to analyze the surroundings and to create the models of the environment.
Robot Valkyrie, NASA
Experts notice, that US developers often use hydraulic drives for loaded joints of robots, while Japanese manufacturers have made significant progress in robotics using electric drives. Also, as we know, there is a cult of the robots in Japan and a couple of other oriental countries, which gives a huge boost to the development of bipedal robots there. But this will be the topic of the vol.2 of my review dedicated to robots which will be published next week.
So, don’t forget to visit my blog again to find out more about the world of robotics. In addition, later on you will have a chance to learn more about our own achievements in this field.
Thank you for reading!
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