Welcome to the robotic age. Long-term federal investments in fundamental science and engineering research, and the researchers who pursue them, have led to novel machines that safely partner with people in nearly every environment. Soon, helping hands are as likely to be made of metal and plastic as flesh and bone. While roboticists figure out the final frontiers of programming, materials development and systems challenges, why not throw some robot motivational posters up on the walls? Find out more in this Special Report.
Credit: Georgia Institute of Technology
Sarah Bergbreiter and her research team at the University of Maryland are building micro-robots, using insects as inspiration--starting with the legs. The objective is to create legs that will ultimately allow a millimeter-scale robot to traverse rough terrain at high speeds. Find out more in this Science Nation video.
Credit: Science Nation, National Science Foundation
The strong, flapping flight of bats offers great possibilities for the design of small aircraft, among many other applications. By building a robotic bat wing, Brown University researchers have uncovered flight secrets of real bats. See more in this video.
Credit: NSF/Brown University
The mission of the Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation in NSF's Directorate for Engineering is to fund fundamental research and education in support of the foundation's strategic goals directed at advances in the disciplines of civil, mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering, and materials design. In addition, the division has a focus on the reduction of risks and damage resulting from earthquakes and other natural and technological hazards.
August 11, 2014
Next generation robotic legs for when the going gets rough
Horses and other animals inspire new designs for smarter, faster, more agile robotic legs
One of the major challenges in robotics is designing robots that can move over uneven, loose or unexpected terrain.
With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), computer engineer Luther Palmer and his team at the Biomorphic Robotics Lab at the University of South Florida are designing computer simulation models for the next generation of robotic legs, and then building them in the lab. The team studies the biomechanics of animals adept at running on rough ground, such as horses, to program the algorithms that power computer simulations.
Palmer sees broad applications for smarter, more agile robotic legs, including military robots that can walk alongside soldiers to carry heavy loads, space-faring robots that run like horses over the surface of Mars, and search-and-rescue robots that can move through a debris field looking for survivors.
The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #1125667, Broadening Participation Research Initiation Grant in Engineering (BRIGE): Running Over Rough Terrain—Enhancing Biological Hypotheses.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.