German scientists have now made a new ultra-light robot with sensors which has the ability to walk like an insect and climb over objects.
Drawing inspiration from the stick insect, Hector, the robot, has an ultralight exoskeleton and passive joints.
The thing that makes the robot different is also attached with a great number of sensors and it works in accordance with a biologically inspired decentralised reactive control concept called the Walknet.
One important feature will be the combination of huge amounts of data from sensors so that the robot can become motile more autonomously than before.
“The way that the elasticity in Hector’s drives acts is comparable to the way that muscles act in biological systems,” said Professor Dr Axel Schneider from the Bielefeld University in Germany.
Making use of the elasticity of the drives, the 18-jointed Hector adapts its flexible nature to the properties of the surfaces over which it is walking.
“However, elasticity alone is not enough for Hector to be able to walk through a natural environment containing obstacles,” said Schneider.
“The challenge was to develop a control system that would coordinate the movements of its legs in difficult surroundings as well,” said Schneider.
Schneider’s colleague Jan Paskarbeit was the mind behind the development and construction of robot. He also programmed a virtual version of Hector for testing the experimental control approaches without giving any harm to the robot.
“All sub-systems have to communicate with each other for the robot to walk without any difficulties,” said Paskarbeit.
“Otherwise, for example, Hector might have too many legs in the air at one for example, Hector might have too many legs in the air at one time, become unstable, and fall over. Moreover, the legs have to be able to react to collisions with obstacles. We have dealt with this by implementing a reflex behaviour for climbing over objects,” said Paskarbeit.
Within 3 years, the walking robot will come with additional abilities in a major project at the CITEC (Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology).