Washington D.C.: A team of researchers was able to breathe grace and precision into robots.
A new type of hydrostatic transmission that combines hydraulic and pneumatic lines can safely and precisely drive robot arms, giving them the delicacy necessary to pick up an egg without breaking it.
This transmission has almost no friction or play, offering extreme precision for tasks such as threading a sewing needle.
The hybrid transmission makes it possible to halve the number of bulky hydraulic lines that a fully hydraulic system would require. Robotic limbs can thus be made lighter and smaller, said researcher John P. Whitney of the Northeastern University.
Whitney and colleagues will report on the new transmission and the upper body humanoid robot they built with it at the IEEE Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2016, May 17 in Stockholm, Sweden.
“The transmission provides our robot with incredibly smooth and fast motion, while also allowing life-like interaction with people and the handling of delicate objects,” said co-author Jessica Hodgins. “For now, the robot is remotely controlled by a human operator, but we would expect the same level of mechanical performance once the motions are automated.”