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An apelike robot to explore the moon

Ankle joint mechanism and sensor foot

Bioinspired functionality

Artificial spine and sensor feet

A robot with a backbone

CAD sketch of the spine

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.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Kühn, DFKI GmbH
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.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Kühn, DFKI GmbH
Developmental diagrams from the Research Center for Artificial Intelligence show the bioinspired functionality of the lower-leg design.
Caption by / Photo by Felix Bernhard und Kristin Fondahl, DFKI GmbH
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.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Kühn, DFKI GmbH
Because of the embedded electronics in the spine, the overall structure can be used as a six-axis force-torque sensor.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Kühn, DFKI GmbH
Here's a CAD sketch of the robot in development.
Caption by / Photo by Frank Beinersdorf, DFKI GmbH
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