[Dr. Wilfried Stoll] and a team at Festo have created an incredible robot kangaroo. Every few years the research teams at Festo release an amazing animal inspired robot. We last covered their smartbird. This year, they’ve created BionicKangaroo (pdf link). While The Six Million Dollar Man might suggest otherwise, Bionics is use of biological systems in engineering design. In this case, Festo’s engineers spent two years studying the jumping behavior of kangaroos as they perfected their creation.
Kangaroos have some amazing evolutionary adaptations for jumping. Their powerful Achilles tendon stores energy upon landing. This allows the kangaroo to increase its speed with each successive jump. The kangaroo’s tail is essential for balancing the animal as it leaps through the air. The Festo team used a thick rubber band to replicate the action of the tendons. The tail is controlled by electric servomotors.
Festo is known for their pneumatic components, so it’s no surprise that the kangaroo’s legs are driven by pneumatic cylinders. Pneumatics need an air supply though, so the team created two versions of the kangaroo. The first uses an on-board air compressor. The second uses a high-pressure storage tank to drive the kangaroo’s legs. An off the shelf Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) acts as BionicKangaroo’s brain. The PLC monitors balance while controlling the pneumatic leg cylinders and electric tail motors. Unfortunately, BionicKangaroo isn’t completely autonomous. The Thalmic Labs Myo makes a cameo appearance in the video. The Kangaroo’s human controller commands the robot with simple arm movements.
While the BionicKangaroo is graceful in its jumps, it still needs a bit of help when turning and taking simple steps. Thankfully we don’t think it will be boxing anytime soon.
[Malte Ahlers] from Germany, After having completed a PhD in neurobiology, decided to build a human sized humanoid robot torso. [Malte] has an interest in robotics and wanted to show case some of his skills.The project is still in its early development but as you will see in the video he has achieved a nice build so far.
A1 consists of a Human sized torso with two arms, each with five (or six, including the gripper) axes of rotation, which have been based on the robolink joints from German company igus.de. The joints are tendon driven by stepper motors with a planetary gear head attached. Using an experimental controller which he has built, [Malte] can monitor the position of the axis by monitoring the encoders embedded in the joints.
The A1 torso features a head with two degrees of freedom, which is equipped with a Microsoft Kinect sensor and two Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 cameras. With this functionality the head can spatially ”see” and ”hear”. The head also has speakers for voice output, which can be accompanied by an animated gesture on the LCD screen lip movements for example. The hands feature a simple gripping tool based on FESTO FinGripper finger to allow the picking up of misc items.
Festo, people who brought us the Manta Ray blimp are back with giant flying penguins. Actually, there’s lots of cool stuff in this video. The flying penguins are nice, but the swimming versions are amazingly believable. They need to sell these as pool toys. There’s also an interactive wall sculpture and a dangling grabby hand that apparently solves the age old riddle; “How many weird dangly grabby things does it take to randomly place several light bulbs in different sockets?”. The answer is, one. Just like last time, they’re sharing some details in PDF form for both the air penguins and the aqua penguins.
German engineering firm Festo has created this flying manta ray. Dubbed the Air_ray, it’s a balloon made of an aluminum-vaporised “PET foil”. Inflated with helium, the Air_ray’s propulsion system is a flapping wing drive. Each wing has alternating pressure and tension flanks that are attached to an internal set of ribs. The flanks are connected to a remotely controlled servo motor. When pressure is applied to either of the flanks, the wing bends in the opposite direction. By alternating pressure on the flanks, the wings beat. The servos are powered by two 8V LiPo accumulator cells.
The total weight of the Air_ray including the balloon, propulsion system, power supply, and helium is 1.6Kg. Festo has more specs in this PDF.