The Bionic Kangaroo

The German automation specialist Festo and its Bionic Learning Network have spawned another creature: The Bionic Kangaroo. After recreating the motion mechanics of several fascinating aquatic and airborne animals they seem to now move on trying to learn the tricks nature applies to land based creatures.

With the BionicKangaroo, Festo has reproduced the unique way a kangaroo moves. Like its natural model, it can recover the energy when jumping, store it and efficiently use it for the next jump. kangaroo03

It combines pneumatic and electrical drive technology to produce a highly dynamic system. The stable jump kinematics plus the precise control technology ensure stability when jumping and landing. The consistent lightweight construction facilitates the unique jumping behavior.

The system is controlled by gestures with a Myo Armband. Festo paid particular attention to the mobile energy supply on the artificial kangaroo. For this purpose, the team even developed two different concepts – one with an integrated compressor and one with a mobile high-pressure storage device.

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There is a detailed brochure on the project here. Altogether as always great marketing leading up to the Hannover Messe. Still impressive technology though.

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An Apelike Balancing and Walking Robot

Researchers at the University of Bremen, Germany have developed “iStruct” an apelike robot that is able to balance and walk on 4 as well as 2 feet.

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The aim of the project is to develop a robotic system as well as biologically inspired structural components which, if applied to a robotic system, effectively improve its locomotion and mobility characteristics. All elements are designed and build as self-contained as possible decentralizing sensing, control and communication. The robot itself is supposed to be a test platform for foot and spine structures.

Balancing

Walking

Transition from four to two feet

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Artificial Muscles made from Fishing Line

An international team led by The University of Texas at Dallas has made the astonishing discovery that ordinary fishing line and sewing thread can be cheaply converted to powerful artificial muscles. This might possibly be an interesting alternative to memory metall (NiTi) based micro actuators.

The new muscles can lift 100 times more weight and generate 100 times higher mechanical power than a human muscle of the same length and weight. They can generate astonishing 7.1 horsepower per kilogram.

In a paper published in Science, the researchers explain that the powerful muscles are produced by twisting and coiling high-strength polymer fishing line and sewing thread. Scientists at UT Dallas’ Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute teamed with scientists from universities in Australia, South Korea, Canada, Turkey and China to accomplish the advances.

The muscles are powered thermally by temperature changes, which can be produced electrically, by the absorption of light or by the chemical reaction of fuels.

 

Silverplated Nylon using the silver as heating element and water for rapid passive cooling.

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Bionic Dragonfly

The German automation specialist Festo released information about another result of their bionic research program. You might remember the flying and swimming penguin, manta ray, jelly fish and lots of other animals they already build. Some even got mentioned in one of William Gibsons novels Zero History.

In their latest attempt to replicate nature they now tried to emulate the flight of the dragonfly. More information on the “BionicOpter” here. There is also a detailed pdf brochure.

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Electroadhesive Robot Climbers

Link

By now, most roboticists are familiar with the myriad gecko-type robots that employ Van der Waals forces (created by microscopic synthetic setae) to cling to walls.  Less well-known is the work on an electrically-controllable alternative developed by researchers at SRI International (formerly called Stanford Research Institute) called “electroadhesion”.  Impressively, the electroadhesive can support 0.2 to 1.4 N per square centimeter, requiring a mere 20 micro-Watts per Newton.  This means that a square meter of electroadhesive could hold at least 200kg (440 lbs) while only consuming 40 milli-Watts, and could turn on and off at the flick of a switch!  Read on for pictures, videos, and discussion.

The patent: US 20080089002 A1

via Electroadhesive Robot Climbers | Hizook.






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Flying Robot Bird

Festo, well known for their biologically inspired robots, has a new creation called SmartBird. It is amazing to watch and all the more amazing when you realize that it flaps its wings and all of the control is via a torsion drive which twists the wings during each flap. The whole thing depends on the constant intervention of the software to keep it under control.

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