The goal of this project is to create a new generation of a robots that can energy efficiently traverse rugged terrain.By using a kangaroo the project is distinctly Australian. Skippy, the bush kangaroo is an iconic Australian television series produced from 1966 to 1968.
This project has just started. We have designed and tested a new energy efficient joint suitable for the robot's knee. This was published at ICRA2013 in Germany and you can see a video of it in action here.
Additionally an investigation of the energy efficiency of legged joints for various configurations of the elastic and actuator elements has been carried out. A mathematical derivation of the energy losses for the parallel elastic actuator, series elastic actuator and non-elastic actuator was conducted. The key result was that significant energy savings are possible with a parallel configuration over the series and non-elastic configurations for the range of typical animal and robot properties. The scripts for these experiments are available as open source below.
Dr David Ball
D Ball, P Ross, J Wall and R Chow, "A novel energy efficient controllable stiffness joint", International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2013.