Hackaday Prize Entry: Piezo Gait Analysis

Go into a fancy drug store, and you might just find one of the most amazing sales demonstrations you’ll ever see. Step right up, take your shoes off, and place your feet onto the magical Dr. Scholl’s machine, and you’ll get a customized readout of how your feet touch the ground. As an added bonus, you’ll also get a recommendation for a shoe insert that will make your feet feel better and your shoes fit better.

There is, of course, one problem with this setup. You don’t stand on a footprint measuring device all day. A better solution to the problem of measuring how your feet hit the ground is doing it while you walk. That’s where [chiprobot]’s Alli-Gait-Or Analysis comes in. It’s that Dr. Scholl’s machine tucked into the sole of a shoe. It can be worn while you walk, and it can tell you exactly how your feet work.

[chiprobot]’s robotic shoes consist of a 3D printed insert that holds eighteen piezo transducers per shoe. These are connected to ADCs, which feed into a microcontroller which sends the data out to a computer. That’s simple enough, but making sense of the data is the real problem.

To turn this data into something that could be used for selecting orthotics or simply finding a better shoe, [chiprobot] is plugging this data into Blender and creating some very cool visualizations. It’s good enough to get some serious data off a shoe, and since this Alli-Gait-Or is wearable, the data is much more valid than a machine sitting in a drug store.

A Hexapod Robot Made from Scrap


Many if not most good hacks come from scrap or unused parts, but this hexapod robot takes it to a new level. [Helmut] wrote in to tell us about his ‘bot built from discarded electronics. As with most of the little walkers that we’ve featured here, this robot features some basic obstacle avoidance with a sensor array on the head unit.

The way the head controls this robot is really the interesting thing about this setup.Rather than send a signal to tell servo motors to walk in a certain gait, the head physically tilts in the direction that it should go. Although it’s somewhat hard to tell, it appears that a driving motor in the head assembly pushes a sort of camshaft down into the body. This is then mechanically coupled to the legs causing it to walk in the correct direction.

Be sure to check out the videos after the break, featuring narration by a computer in English, or by a human in German if you happen to sprechen sie Deutsch. Continue reading “A Hexapod Robot Made from Scrap”

Learning to walk, a tutorial on making bipeds walk

[Robert Lam] has produced a number of video tutorials, his latest being a tutorial on how to make a biped robot walk. He is mainly covering the individual motions and actions. He doesn’t go into any specific programming, but rather breaks down the act of walking into several motions and discusses the reason you need them as well as some variations. For some this will seem like obvious observations, but we’ve seen plenty of biped robots that attempt to walk without shifting their weight.You can watch this video after the break, but be sure to dig around in some of his other tutorials for plenty of good stuff.

Continue reading “Learning to walk, a tutorial on making bipeds walk”

5 legged locomotion

When designing legged robots, we generally see an even number of legs. Mainly, we think, it is due to us modelling things after nature. But with robotics, you’re free to do whatever you want. [Iketomu-san] has built this unsettling 5 legged robot out of parts he had lying around. The gait is fairly interesting. He mentions that it could be used for robot fighting, where the odd leg would serve as a prop from behind and the two legs up front could be weapons. What kind of gait or use can you come up with for this thing?