Scientists in Italy have developed a four legged robot for rescue operations and uses in industry that you cannot knock down – not for long, anyway. Called HyQ2Max, the powerful and extremely tough critter-like machine is designed to get straight back on its feet whenever it is knocked over.
Roboticists at the Dynamic Legged Systems Lab in the Advanced Robotics Department of the Italian Institute of Technology say the robot can cope better in dangerous environments than your typical tracked or wheeled vehicle.
Claudio Semini, head of the Dynamic Legged Systems Lab, told Reuters:
“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.”
HyQ2Max, the four-legged robot, will soon have two arms, the scientists say. (Image: Dynamic Legged Systems Lab)
“These kind of robots can be applied in an environment where the terrain is difficult and where you don’t want to send people.”
He believes HyQ2Max has enormous potential for saving human lives in disaster areas.
A project that started in 2007
Dr. Semini says the HyQ project started in 2007 as his PhD project at the Institute of Technology. The aim was to develop a versatile four-footed robot that could perform highly dynamic movements, such as jumping and running, as well as navigating like a mountain goat over rough terrain.
Following intensive testing of a leg prototype in 2008 and 2009, the first HyQ prototype was operational in 2010.
Since then, Dr. Semini and his team have been improving the robot hardware and software and added a number of locomotion modes including walking, running and leaping. Research continues on motion planning, rigid body dynamic, and low-high level control.
HyQ2Max, the culmination of 8 years’ worth of research and development, has large joint ranges and a high joint torque, which can right itself in a matter of seconds, i.e. it can get back on its feet incredibly fast.
As part of software development, the robot learned how to navigate in rough terrain. (Image: www.semini.ch)
Dr. Semini, who was born in Zurich, Switzerland, said:
“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.”
The robot’s torso is made from aerospace-grade aluminium alloy. Its onboard electronics are protected by lightweight fibreglass and Kevlar covers.
HyQ2Max could be used in industry
The team believes HyQ2Max could have uses in industry.
According to the Italian Institute of Technology “Claudio Semini is currently the head of the Dynamic Legged Systems Lab that developed a number of high-performance hydraulic robots, including HyQ, HyQ2Max, MiniHyQ and HyQ centaur.” (Image: www.iit.it)
Dr. Semini sees his robot being used in construction or forestry, as well as maintenance and remote inspection operations “there’s a various range of applications where these high mobility vehicles will be applied in the future,” he added.
They now plan to attach two arms to the robot, thus turning it into a centaur-like device that runs, jumps, walks, climbs and can handle objects.
Video – HyQ2Max Video Teaser
This is the first glimpse we get of the latest robot to emerge from IIT’s DLS lab. The development of HyQ2Max has been dedicated to maximising robustness, strength, and versatility. This involved adding a far larger joint range than previously seen, a huge increase in the available torque in the joints and, at zero weight cost overall. Put simply, HyQ2Max is a monster!