AUSTIN, Texas A six-legged robotic spider jointly developed by Nanyang Polytechnic of Singapore, Schmid Engineering AG and Analog Devices Inc. (ADI has been designed to support rescue operations.
The collaborative effort yielded a small, autonomous robot that can avoid obstacles and access tight spots to help rescue trapped victims. Another potential military application for the spider robot is sweeping minefields.
The "Hexapod" robot can squeeze through tight spaces and narrow slots. And it can dance. (See a video here of the robot doing the limbo.)
The robot's highly mobile walking scheme design consists of six independent legs that move the robot, even across rough terrain. Walking and rotating are among the basic motions adopted from six-legged insects. With three legs moving and three lifted, the robot can reach the desired walking speed and provide sufficient equilibrium required for harsh terrain.
The spider robot's low-level motion gaits for each of its legs are geometrical primitives such as rectangular or circular trajectories in 3-D space. The spider's low-level movements rely on complex mathematical models calculated during its run time.
Schmid Engineering (Muenchwilen, Switzerland) provided its ZMobile platform for the robot, which integrates sensors, actuators, vision, power and wireless communications.
Spider robot application software was programmed using the National Instrument's LabVIEW Embedded Module for ADI's Blackfin processor.
The robot's leg mechanics and motion control mechanism use 24 smart DC brush motors to drive the legs and function as joints in the walking mechanics. This design was intended to reduce weight while maintaining ruggedness, lower power consumption and improve motion dynamics.
Marco Schmid, president and CEO of Schmid Engineering, and Anders Frederiksen, marketing manager at Analog Devices, accepted an Editors' Choice Award for their design during an annual event here hosted by National Instruments. (TechInsights, publisher of EE Times, sponsored the award.)
In other demos here, a robot designed and built in five weeks by a National Instruments intern scouted the exhibit floor for obstacles to avoid. Also, a prototype robot developed by National Instruments as part of a high school competition, "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology," snapped pictures of attendees while navigating the exhibit floor.