Every component in robot manufacturing is vital for the proper functioning of the machine, especially regarding its movements. Springs are at the core of robotic movement, and essential for smooth and human-like mobility. Modern advancements due to countries like Japan investing in robotics are seeing mechanisms develop at an impressive rate.

Disney’s Untethered One-Legged Hopping Robot

Compression springs have aided in the production of a ground-breaking development into producing robots that move with a single limb. The unprecedented invention from Disney Research is a significant advancement in autonomous robots. 

The robot hops in place similarly to how Winnie the Pooh’s friend Tigger jumps around. Through a linear elastic actuator in parallel (LEAP) thrust-producing mechanism, the compression springs and the small coil actuactor in the servomotors provide it with seven seconds of hopping, totalising 19 hops.

Older, one-legged models required a tether to supply energy that greatly limited both its portability and mobility. Disney’s robot, however, has an adapted Raibert’s hopping controller and the lithium polymer batteries that allow for its revolutionary movement.

DURUS, Aiding Robot Mobility

Disney’s research team has provided an insight into the right direction for robots’ independent mobility. Robots walking like humans is a closer possibility due to research conducted at Georgia Institute of Technology. Researchers have developed DURUS, a robot that very closely imitates human movement, as it lands on the heel of its foot, rolls through the step, and pushes off its toe. Its human-like gait is due to the springs between its ankles and feet, which give it an anatomy similar to human elastic tendons.

Unlike flat-footed robots, DURUS can take faster and longer steps with more efficiency, as observed at AMBER Lab. The amount of power a robot uses divided by its weight and walking speed is utilised to determine how efficient its mobility is. With a 1.4 cost of transport, DURUS is a step closer to develop even more efficient mobility systems.

Cassie, A Bipedal Robot

ATRIAS was developed by the Dynamic Robotics Laboratory at Oregon State University as a way of developing and showcasing theoretical, mobility concepts. Its legs are placed upon series-elastic fibreglass springs for both suspension and mechanical energy storage. With a bipedal movement, ATRIAS is able to run and walk in an efficient way which is similar to a human walk cycle.

Cassie is ATRIAS’ successor and, as doctoral student Patrick Clary states, “three times more efficient and three times lighter than ATRIAS.” Still in development, Cassie is expected to be able to walk uninterruptedly for an hour and run a nine-minute mile.

The future of robotics is ever changing, and here at Airedale Springs we always ensure to invest in high-quality spring manufacturing procedures for optimised end products. You can get in touch with our team by giving us a call on 01535 643456; we’re always happy to help.

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