MIT creates a cat-like machine that climbs and jumps using contact detection
Many robots depend on cameras and other visual sensors to find their way around the world. But that’s not always realistic — it can be too dark, too chaotic or even play tricks. Thankfully, MIT is prepared. The latest version of its Cheetah robot, Cheetah 3, can run, climb and even jump using contact detection alone — effectively, while it’s blind.
The cat-like automaton relies on a pair of algorithms to both ‘feel’ its way around (much as you would feel your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night) and figure out the best way to move forward.
The first algorithm uses accelerometers, gyroscopes and leg joint positions to calculate the probabilities of legs making contact, generating force and getting caught in mid-swing. If Cheetah steps on an unexpected obstacle, it can determine whether each leg should push down or lift away. The second algorithm, meanwhile, predicts the robot’s positioning so that it can quickly react to its situation. Even if you push the robot around, it’ll know how to get back on track.
Sand drawing bot makes beautiful beach art
From Popular Mechanics:
If you’re looking to advertise at the beach but all the planes have been booked, or you’re stranded on a desert island, Ivan Miranda has a new robot for you. His sand drawing robot can print any sort of text on the beach. It’s a strong improvement over a finger in the sand.
The text looks a lot like a dot matrix format from the 60s and 70s, and that’s for a good reason. Miranda is using a large linear actuator on large wheels, slowly moving one column at a time. It writes vertically, making indentations in the sand with a marker that drops up and picks up to fit each letter. The skinny columns give each letter maximum visibility.
A cockroach robot that can walk on land…and underwater
From The Harvard Gazette:
In nature, cockroaches can survive underwater for up to 30 minutes. Now, a robotic cockroach can do even better. Harvard’s Ambulatory Microrobot, known as HAMR, can walk on land, swim on the surface of water and walk underwater for as long as necessary, opening up new environments for this little bot to explore.
This next generation HAMR uses multifunctional foot pads that rely on surface tension and surface tension induced buoyancy when HAMR needs to swim, but can also apply a voltage to break the water surface when HAMR needs to sink.
Moving on the surface of water allows a microrobot to evade submerged obstacles and reduces drag. Using four pairs of asymmetric flaps and custom designed swimming gaits, HAMR robo-paddles on the water surface to swim.
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