I’m nearly at a complete loss of words at this humanoid robot. WOW. Absolutely brilliant show of progress for humanoids across the globe. It’s not just the movement, it’s how compact the entire robot is. No bulky joints, backpack, etc. Very slim, aesthetically pleasing humanoid robot!
Need a plastic shell for your robot!? Do it yourself and make your own vacuum former like some of the people in our forum. Some of these people have decided to take vacuum forming into their own hands. They have created custom vacuum forming machines, some seem to be a little over engineered and some aren’t too pretty, but they still get the job done.
Fun fact: Vacuum forming was used in the creation of the very first storm trooper armor in Star Wars.
Meet Acroban, a compliant humanoid project being developed by the Inria Flowers Research team in France. This humanoid robot, made mostly from RX-64 Dynamixels from the look of it, is impressive in that it uses a semi-passive dynamic locomotion and reliance on natural backlash compliance (along with structural flex & elastics) to portray some very lifelike movements.
Acroban is a lightweight compliant humanoid robot capable of robust semi-passive dynamic locomotion, life-like movements, and offers the possibility of a new kind of playful physical human-robot interaction. We developped this platform to explore how morphological constraints can simplify the developmental acquisition of complex sensorimotor skills, as well as to explore novel kinds of human-robot interaction.
The video demonstrates this very well, bringing a rather mechanical and utilitarian looking robot to life. Inria Flowers calls this the ‘Luxo Jr. Effect’ named after the pint size companion of Pixar’s lovable Desk Lamp mascot. It really is true though; something about the way this robot moves reaches out to our primal emotional response, making our brain think it’s something actually alive. In doing this, the robot effectively leaps over Uncanny Valley by coming across as very human-like without the increasingly creepy aesthetics that many humanoids fall victim to.
The Luxo Jr. Effect
Furthermore, Acroban provokes spontaneous highly positive emotional reactions, especially in children. Yet, as opposed to many other robots, its morphology is neither roundish nor cute. He has no big eyes. He is just made of metal, and its appearance shows it explicitly. At first glance, its visual appearance creates low expectation of intelligence and life-likeness. But when it begins to move and one can touch it, its natural dynamics, much more life-like than most other robots, triggers a high contrast and positive surprise. Life unexpectedly appears out of a neutral metallic object, much as Pixar’s Luxo Jr. This is the Luxo Jr. effect.
Enough talk, check out the demonstration video (especially the interaction with kids later on). If you’re looking for more info, the Acroban Page has a wealth of videos and writing on the project.
Okay, so bipeds have been done before, what makes this special? Not only does it have some of the most impressive Inverse Kinematics I’ve seen on a non-professional level, it utilizes a pretty innovative COG-Shifter mechanism that can slide the battery and onboard controller from side to side to assist in walking. Want to see it in action? Look no further!
Also, if you can’t get enough of Kåre and his awesome Norwegian accent, check out this ‘behind the scenes’ video where you’ll be treated to his very impressive workshop and a demo of how he controls his various robots:
“Supermodified controllers are direct replacement boards for the original servo electronics, that allow full PID speed and position control of the servo. Based on the ATMega 368P (fully Arduino compatible with half the footprint of Arduino nano and 4MHz faster) also allow for controlling 4 digital IOs, as well as 4 analog inputs.”
Antonb’s arm is so good that it can take a bolt from your hand and screw it into a nut flawlessly. If someone ever told me that this could be done with an arm built out of hobby servos I would have laughed. I’m not laughing now! I’m impressed.
Some Quick Stats:
- Absolute position feedback of 0.35 degrees
- adjustable PID
- magnetic encoders!
- Tactile Feedback
Open source code and schematics:
*Also of note is the super clean workbench which I need to show to Andrew here…
Many of you might remember A-Pod, Zenta’s (creator of the Phoenix) incredible life-like ant inspired Hexapod. Well, he’s back and better than ever! As if the original video wasn’t impressive enough, it looks like good ol’ A-Pod got a few upgrades in both the hardware and software categories. You’ll also be pleased to know, A-Pod is serving up drinks once again. Zenta also delivers some new video of his Phoenix and T-HEX Hexapods! Check it out!
You may remember this very awesome Hexapod from a previous post, controlled via a custom iPhone app. Well iHexi has returned with a few upgrades; namely Android phone support which eliminates using a PC as a ‘go between’. Looks to me as though it’s moving a bit smoother too, definitely an impressive piece of work and the video has a pretty awesome soundtrack as well! Check it out!
On an unrelated note; our good friend Rob Farrell of Farrell Robotics posted this video of two DX-117 based humanoids duking it out at last years Korean Robot Festival; these are some of the more impressive lightweight humanoids I’ve seen!
There isn’t a lot of info on this robot and its’ builder (that I could find), but it never fails to amaze me how innovative folks can be. Sam Todo, from the Togolese Republic, built this humanoid robot mostly out of parts from old TV sets, and to be honest, walks better than a lot of higher end bots I’ve seen out there! Check it out!
Giger’s upgrades got finalized late Sunday night and I had a bit of time to sit down and start to work on the walking gaits (from scratch). The EX-106+ is roughly 4x more precise than all previous Dynamixels, so the positional values do not translate over well when upgrading from a previous model. What does that mean? It was far simpler to just start over rather than try to scale the values step by step. All new custom brackets used in the legs and feet, as well as new elbow/shoulder brackets and arm extensions. Brackets were designed in Autodesk Inventor 2008 and machined by Rapid Sheet Metal. It’s worth mentioning that all of the custom, as well as the stock, brackets and frames that are used in Giger’s arms and legs are available in our store on our Dynamixel Servo & Bracket page! Even his ankles/hip joints or his entire legs!
A lot of projects tend to only show updates after many dozens and/or hundreds of hours of progress, but I like to show the little steps as I feel it gives one a better view of the evolution of a project and what goes into making a robot work. Keep in mind; I have this gait tuned to a very slow rate so that I can work on the balance and COG shifting correctly, it can then be sped up to a more realistic, useful speed. Here’s a short video of my initial walking gait progress (about 2 hours of programming work so far) on Giger 2.0:
I’ve been busy at work with Giger installing some upgrades before Robogames (in the tune of 10x EX-106+ actuators, as well as brand new machined brackets from Rapid Sheet Metal). That said, we decided to use some of the random footage we had taken of Giger to give an overview of the robot in it’s first revision, when it only had RX-64s powering its legs. We’ll have a lot more information, pictures, and video on Giger v2.0 in the near future!
BTW- If anyone is looking for a solid place to get some sheet metal cut/bent or some parts machined, check out Rapid Sheet Metal and their sister company Rapid Machining. I’ll give a bit more in-depth review of them in the followup post where we’ll talk more about Giger 2.0, but I was absolutely blown away by their quality and customer service, so I’ll say it here as well. Check em out! Tell em we sent ya! =)