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One-Legged Robot Hops About as Researchers Try Knocking It Over


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The TTI Hopper robot.

A one-legged robot that can stand, hop, and keep its balance on sloping or unsteady surfaces could offer a cheaper route to bipedal bots and self-balancing exoskeletons.

Credit: Tokyo Technological Institute

The one-legged TTI Hopper robot can stand, hop, and maintain balance on sloping or unsteady surfaces.

Researchers at Japan's Toyota Technological Institute (TTI) constructed the robot using simple direct current motors and inexpensive gears, as well as an algorithm that compensates for the limited functionality of those components.

The algorithm slackens joints when shocks must be absorbed, and stiffens them when the robot must right itself or push off while running, keeping the robot upright.

The team proved mathematically that the algorithm ensured the robot's stability by calculating the vertical and horizontal forces on the leg from the motors and gravity.

Former TTI researcher Barkan Ugurlu said he now is working adapt the algorithm for use in a bipedal exoskeleton for legless people. “My idea is to use the terrain adaptation ability to get rid of the crutches.”

From New Scientist
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