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Design News, January 2013

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Automation & Control Human-Like Bipedal Walking Robot In the world of robotics engineering there are two primary ways to view how a robot walks. The trick has always been keeping a dynamically walking robot upright. A By Deb Setters, maxon precision motors ssistant Professor Dr. Aaron Ames, at the A&M Bipedal Experimental Robotics Lab (AMBER), heads a team of students in the design, simulation, and fabrication of a robot that will walk like a human. The AMBER 2 is an important project. Making a human-like bipedal walking robot will advance robotics beyond that of toys or novelty, and into the area of high-level use for a variety of applications including space exploration, disaster response, military operations, elderly assistance, rehabilitation, and prosthetics. Most robots being built today use what is called a quasistatic locomotion method, or the ZMP (Zero Moment Point) technique of walking. This type of operation essentially means that no (or zero) moment (inertia) in the horizontal direction is present at the "point" where the foot hits the ground. If the robot is stopped mid-stride it con- Dr. Aaron Ames started thinking about a robot's ability to walk like a human during motion capture experiments performed on humans. Source: maxon precision motors The AMBER 2 robot has been designed using high-quality, precise components to provide more natural walking behaviors than other robots on the market. tinues to stand. This is not a human-like walk. If we were to be stopped mid-stride, we'd fall over. The Texas A&M team found that by using voltage-based controllers their walking method could be more dynamic in nature, as feedback could be more easily incorporated into the design. According to Ames, "The first goal to overcome is how to mathematically model such a highly dynamic system, and then how to fabricate the controllers and other hardware to do what you want. Similar to what we chose to do with our first robot, we decided to create our next generation, AMBER 2 robot, from the ground up. The process included the initial CAD designs using SolidWorks renderings, through mathematical analysis using Wolfram Mathmatica, to simulation and controller design using The MathWorks' Matlab, and finally using National Instruments' LabVIEW for upper level control of the final design." Design News | jaNuary 2013 | www.d esign n ews.com –57–

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