Robots get smaller and smarter

In situations where human access is not safe or is undesirable, walking and climbing robots can be used. Thanks to High Performance Computing and Networking (HPCN) technologies, robots with increased flexibility and robustness can be built with significantly reduced cost, size and production time. Utilities and civil engineering are obvious markets.

The WIRED project has used HPCN technologies to build Robug 4, an eight-legged walking robot that operates under user direction. Robug can still perform its mission even when one or two legs stop working. The project has also developed software to control the walking and climbing motion of the robot. This automatically accounts for hardware reconfiguration (if a leg is removed).

Robug 4, on the WIRED stand, is shown standing on six, five or four legs. A video of Robug 3 and Robug 4 illustrates how embedded HPCN has made possible a smaller, more elegant robot. The demonstrator shows embedded microcontrollers connected together as a parallel computer. Also on display is the control software responsible for the walking and climbing motion of the robot, and the force-feedback control showing how the robot can understand its environment from the force on its legs.

Contact Paul GORDON, The IT Innovation Centre
tel +44 23 8076 0834
fax +44 23 8076 0833
email plg@it-innovation.ac.uk
website www.it-innovation.ac.uk

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