Legged robots that mimic the robustness and versatility of animals
could be a solution. But designing quadruped automatons that are
dynamic enough to cope with any scenario has proved problematic.
Step forward HyQ2Max - the latest and most powerful four-legged
robot to come out of the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT).
Animal-like in posture and movement, HyQ2Max is an improved version
of their hydraulic quadruped robot HyQ.
"Much like a cat or a goat that is very agile on rough terrain, this
robot can in the future help in very unstructured environments, for
example after an earthquake, after a tsunami or after a house has
collapsed for other reasons; these kind of robots can be applied in
an environment where the terrain is difficult and where you don't
want to send people," explained Claudio Semini, who is leading the
To protect itself while deployed in a structure damaged in an
earthquake, for example, HyQ2Max is designed to be robust against
the impact of falling objects. In addition all sensitive parts like
sensors, valves, actuators and electronics are protected inside the
HyQ2Max's main designer was mechanical design engineer Jake
Goldsmith who made its torso from aerospace-grade aluminum alloy,
with lightweight fiberglass and Kevlar covers protecting the onboard
Key to HyQ2Max's potential for real-world application is its ability
to get back on its feet even when knocked completely over. With its
larger joint ranges and higher joint torques, HyQ2Max can right
itself in a matter of seconds.
[to top of second column]
"So we want to put the robot down on the ground and see how it gets
back up on its feet. So this can happen in reality when the robot,
for example, slips or is somehow falling down for whatever reason;
the robot needs to be able to get up again," said Semini.
While the robot is being designed with search and rescue missions in
mind, Semini said that it could prove a useful tool for many
"There's a lot of markets that have a bigger potential. Other
markets are, for example; construction, or the forestry industry,
but there's also maintenance, remote inspection - there's a various
range of applications where these high mobility vehicles will be
applied in the future," he said.
Ultimately the team believes quadruped robots operating in
real-world applications will need to manipulate objects at some
point. They are working on a pair of dextrous arms that will be
mounted on the front of HyQ2Max and other IIT quadrupeds. This
'centaur-style' robot would combine the advantages of a stable
four-legged base with the ability to handle objects.
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