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An apelike robot to explore the moon

With a sophisticated lower-limb system that incorporates a 43-point pressure-sensor array, the iStruct humanoid and apelike robot might be the next explorer to traverse the surfaces of distant planets.

The multilegged robot, developed by Germany's Research Center for Artificial Intelligence and the University of Bremen, shows the advantages of actuated multi-point-contact feet, using a suite of sensors to monitor precise movements of the foot and ankle structures.

The result is an advanced balance and locomotion system inspired by physiology, which gives the machine unusually natural movement. The robot can walk forward, backward, sideways, and diagonally, with smooth transitions.

Published:Caption:Photo:Daniel Kühn, DFKI GmbH
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Ankle joint mechanism and sensor foot

Close-up picture of the ankle-joint mechanism and sensor foot. The dynamic walker relies heavily on the lower-limb foot-and-ankle structure for its biomechanical intelligence.

A distance sensor in the heel to anticipate the heel strike, a digital three-axis accelerometer to perceive the orientation of the foot structure, a digital magnetic angular encoder, and a bevy of other sensors monitor every moving axes of the foot and ankle structure.

Published:Caption:Photo:Daniel Kühn, DFKI GmbH
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Bioinspired functionality

Developmental diagrams from the Research Center for Artificial Intelligence show the bioinspired functionality of the lower-leg design.

Published:Caption:Photo:Felix Bernhard und Kristin Fondahl, DFKI GmbH
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Artificial spine and sensor feet

Lateral view of the apelike robot, with artificial spine and sensor feet. The Robotics Innovation Center says the machine is designed as part of its "Space Robotics" research area -- projects that deal with the development of intelligent robots for extraterrestrial exploration. The efforts involve biologically inspired innovative locomotion concepts that are meant to address unstructured, uneven terrain. They're also multifunction projects involving reconfigurable systems.

Published:Caption:Photo:Daniel Kühn, DFKI GmbH
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A robot with a backbone

Because of the embedded electronics in the spine, the overall structure can be used as a six-axis force-torque sensor.

Published:Caption:Photo:Daniel Kühn, DFKI GmbH
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CAD sketch of the spine

Here's a CAD sketch of the robot in development.

Published:Caption:Photo:Frank Beinersdorf, DFKI GmbH
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