cps title
Bio-Robotics

My robots are inspired by mechanisms of Animal Walking ,
designed with heirarchical, Electro-Mechanical Control,
and built as an expression of my Artistic Sensibility
.

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      I spent much of my scientific career studying and explaining the neural mechanisms which control animal walking.
You can see my Professional Resume HERE. During a sabbatical at the University of Genoa (Italy) Robotics
Lab, I continued to explore the basic mechanics of walking, and how these principles were applied in
different species. I also began to study robotic "walking machines" designed by others, which combined sound
mechanical design with biological inspiration.

      Since I began my career studying crabs, and because crabs have their own unique "sideways" pattern of walking, I became attached to these beasties. Therefore, I was inspired to create a robot which uses a similar pattern, thus...

"The CRAB-BOT"


The Principles:

                    1.  Use animal anatomy and movement as inspiration, but adapt as necessary to make the
                           robot more simple, efficient, and elegant.
                    2.  Make the finished robot look and act "naturally", as if it could be "alive".
                    3.  Rely as much as possible on built-in mechanical design "circuits" (rather than
                           electronics) to control movements.
                    4.  Keep the control and coordination functions compartmentalized, layered,
                           and peripheral (de-centralized).
                    5.  Build as much of the robot myself as possible, to minimize costs (I do not
                           use outside funding),  and to be able to make improvements/changes quickly.




The Process:

Phase I. Design, build, and operate a single leg, which will produce a "crab-like"
            movement cycle.

      My leg-design research led me to the work of Theo Jansen, whose "animals" are very large, completely mechanical, and use the wind for power. His basic leg design is complex however, and difficult to adapt to my needs. Then I came across the work of Joseph Klann (Mechanical Spider), who uses a patented leg design which is simpler, and suited my needs better. A third source of design and inspiration was "Crab-Fu", who has buit a series of three-legged designs, which are elegant and beautiful, but lack the bi-lateral symmetries and inter-leg coordination found in most animals.

      The end result of this process was a single leg system which moves in a very "biological" pattern, and which suits my overall principles. It is driven by a standard servo (modified for continuous rotation), and speed control is through an inexpensive hobby Radio-Control transmitter/receiver. The leg design and linkage was taken directly from the patented "Klann-Leg" design (with permission, of course).

      Below is a short video of the leg in action. This is an early version, but illustrates the basic design and movement. Note that the tip of the leg stays parallel to (and in contact with) the ground during the power-stroke phase, and the lifts clear of the ground during the return-stroke, to get into position for the next step in the cycle.

    


Phase I: Completed

Phase II. Design, build, and operate a 6-legged Crab-Bot platform, which walks in a coordinated "alternating tripod" gait.

     Using the legs designed in Phase I, I will design and build a standing, sideways-walking
platform mechanism representing a crab. There will be a group of 3 legs on each side, all coordinated, and with bi-lateral symmetry. These 6 legs will be attached to a body/base, to produce a free-standing, CRAB-BOT. This mechanism will be capable of standing, balancing, and walking in a straight line from side-to-side.

Current Status of Phase II: One 3-Leg Unit completed, with mechanical coordinating
                mechanism, driven by a single motor, operating through radio-control.

Video 1. Complete 3-Leg Unit (one side of crab),in operation with "alternating-tripod" gait.
Front View
(note; bi-directional movement)

 


Video 2.
Complete 3-Leg Unit (one side of crab),showing cam-driven coordination.        
 
Side View (note; linkage is an adaptation of the patented Klann design)


Video 3. Complete 3-Leg Unit (one side of crab),showing cam drive mechanism, driven by single
motor in continuous rotation. Rear View




Continuing with Phase II:
Second 3-leg unit under construction, to be followed by assembly
of the entire walking system... then sideways walking!


Phase III and Beyond... 

     Future challenges will be to design a Crab-Bot system which can raise and lower the body on command, from "rest" to a "standing" posture, and which can turn, and walk in curved paths. Ultimately, the dream is to have an autonomous walking robot, with path control and obstacle avoidance walking over an uneven terrain.

Status of Phase III:     Planning and Dreaming Underway