Animal behavioral, physiological and neurobiological studies are providing a wealth of inspirational data for robot
design and control. Several very different biologically inspired mobile robots will be reviewed. A robot called DIGbot is
being developed that moves independent of the direction of gravity using Distributed Inward Gripping (DIG) as a rapid
and robust attachment mechanism observed in climbing animals. DIGbot is an 18 degree of freedom hexapod with
onboard power and control systems. Passive compliance in its feet, which is inspired by the flexible tarsus of the
cockroach, increases the robustness of the adhesion strategy and enables DIGbot to execute large steps and stationary
turns while walking on mesh screens. A Whegs™ robot, inspired by insect locomotion principles, is being developed that
can be rapidly reconfigured between tracks and wheel-legs and carry GeoSystems Zipper Mast. The mechanisms that
cause it to passively change its gait on irregular terrain have been integrated into its hubs for a compact and modular
design. The robot is designed to move smoothly on moderately rugged terrain using its tracks and run on irregular terrain
and stairs using its wheel-legs. We are also developing soft bodied robots that use peristalsis, the same method of
locomotion earthworms use. We present a technique of using a braided mesh exterior to produce fluid waves of motion
along the body of the robot that increase the robot's speed relative to previous designs. The concept is highly scalable,
for endoscopes to water, oil or gas line inspection.
Simulation of robots in a virtual domain has multiple benefits. End users can use the simulation as a training tool to
increase their skill with the vehicle without risking damage to the robot or surrounding environment. Simulation allows
researchers and developers to benchmark robot performance in a range of scenarios without having the physical robot or
environment present. The simulation can also help guide and generate new design concepts. USARSim (Unified
System for Automation and Robot Simulation) is a tool that is being used to accomplish these goals, particularly within
the realm of search and rescue. It is based on the Unreal Tournament 2004 gaming engine, which approximates the
physics of how a robot interacts with its environment. A family of vehicles that can benefit from simulation in
USARSim are Whegs<sup>TM</sup> robots. Developed in the Biorobotics Laboratory at Case Western Reserve University,
Whegs<sup>TM</sup> robots are highly mobile ground vehicles that use abstracted biological principles to achieve a robust level of
locomotion, including passive gait adaptation and enhanced climbing abilities. This paper describes a Whegs<sup>TM</sup> robot
model that was constructed in USARSim. The model was configured with the same kinds of behavioral characteristics
found in real Whegs<sup>TM</sup> vehicles. Once these traits were implemented, a validation study was performed using identical
performance metrics measured on both the virtual and real vehicles to quantify vehicle performance and to ensure that
the virtual robot's performance matched that of the real robot.
Robots can serve as hardware models for testing biological hypotheses. Both for this reason and to improve the state of the art of robotics, we strive to incorporate biological principles of insect locomotion into robotic designs. Previous research has resulted in a line of robots with leg designs based on walking and climbing movements of the cockroach <i>Blaberus discoidalis</i>. The current version, Robot V, uses muscle-like Braided Pneumatic Actuators (BPAs). In this paper, we use recorded electromyograms (EMGs) to drive robot joint motion. A muscle activation model was developed that transforms EMGs recorded from behaving cockroaches into appropriate commands for the robot. The transform is implemented by multiplying the EMG by an input gain thus generating an input pressure signal, which is used to drive a one-way closed loop pressure controller. The actuator then can be modeled as a capacitance with input rectification. The actuator exhaust valve is given a leak rate, making the transform a leaky integrator for air pressure, which drives the output force of the actuator. We find parameters of this transform by minimizing the difference between the robot motion produced and that observed in the cockroach. Although we have not reproduced full-amplitude cockroach motion using this robot, results from evaluation on reduced-amplitude cockroach angle data strongly suggest that braided pneumatic actuators can be used as part of a physical model of a biological system.
Over the years, scientists and artists alike have imagined walking mechanisms that mimic the natural gait of humans and animals. Only recently have engineers begun to unravel the mystery of animal locomotion. Several walking robots have been built in the past few years . An ongoing research problem with these robots is their inefficiency. Whereas animal locomotion is quite efficient, our efforts to mimic it have not been, with a few notable exceptions . In this paper, we present a design for efficient legged locomotion, and we show the initial concept demonstration.
Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) is the integration of actuators, sensors, and electronics onto a silicon substrate through the utilization of microfabrication technology. MEMS is an enabling technology, in that it allows the realization of smart devices and systems by augmenting the computational ability of electronics with the perception and control capabilities of microsensors and microactuators. In the most general form, the sensors gather information from the environment, the electronics analyze the sensor information and direct the actuators to control or manipulate the environment for some desired outcome or purpose. The benefits of MEMS technology for realization of demining sensors include: high sensitivity, low-cost due to batch fabrication; high accuracy and reliability, small size and weight; low power consumption; high levels of functionality; and the ability to integrate on-chip electronics. Combining MEMS sensors onto low-cost robotic platforms which can autonomously scan large areas for mines without placing humans at risk is an attractive approach to the unexploded ordinance problem.