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Bio-inspired universal robot:


      Robotics is important area of interest for the Greenwich Institute for Science and Technology. GIST scientists believe that robotics will be a basic element of next technological revolution. The bottleneck for using small wheeled or tracked robots is non-reliable locomotion in different terrains and zones (urban environment, rocky mountain, sand dunes, wetlands, snowfield, reefs, and water). Our scientists analyzed different robotic and biological systems for search of novel ideas for locomotion. Well known that legged animals - mammals, insects and others - have incredible mobility in very different environments.

Squirrel eating cookie Insect


Central problems for known legged robots are:
- mechanical complexity and energy non-efficiency (usually such robots use 2-3 actuators or engines per each leg).
- slow locomotion due to limited abilities of a CPU and a software for processing sensor information and for control of positions of each leg.
- low reliability (typical legged robot can stick in obstacles or cracks very soon).

      These problems guarantee maximal price for a legged robot and minimal number of practical applications of such a robot. GIST scientists develop an innovative bio-inspired concept for multilegged "Universal Robot" or UR (patent pending) which will be effective not only for ground locomotion, but also for water (underwater) swimming with same drive. This design does not require multiple, power-hungry actuators, heavy engines and complex software and microprocessors. UR is energy efficient and mechanically simple: couple of electric engines and simple mechanical parts are sufficient for the locomotion of all 50-100 legs of such a vehicle.
      In many cases this robot will have great advantage against usual wheeled, tracked and legged ground vehicles and known undersea vehicles for surf zone. The Universal Robot on base of novel principle of multilegged locomotion promises breakthrough in robotics. The significance of new concept of a multilegged locomotion may be comparable with importance of principle of a tracked locomotion.
      Computer simulation and animation shows effectiveness of locomotion of the multifunctional UR in an ocean, from ocean to shore, on ground with obstacles. Dynamical simulations were confirmed by mathematical solutions and mechanical models.
      Bio-inspired shape and design of Universal Robot is close to a centipede. There are a list of abilities and parameters of Universal Robot estimated by mathematical calculations, simple mechanical models and computer simulations:

a. 

Size. Reasonable sizes for man-portable version of UR are: length is 3 feet, width is 1 ft, and height is 0.5 ft.

b. 

Miniaturization. Design of UR is perfect for building of micro-robots (few inches in length or smaller).

c. 

Locomotion ability. The Universal Robot will be more effective and faster than wheeled, tracked or legged robotic vehicles for most terrains: soft sand, rocky terrains, wetland, snow field, shoreline and wave-breaking areas. UR is indifferent to overturns. UR has ability to climbing slope surfaces (rock, cliff, stairs) up to 70-80 degree and low walls.

d. 

Amphibious ability. UR has good ability for water and underwater low-noise swimming by using same drive as for ground locomotion.

e. 

Efficiency. The Universal Robot will be energy efficient as usual wheeled or tracked vehicle and much more energy efficient than usual multilegged systems.

f. 

Simplicity. The Universal Robot has very simple mechanical drive and can be run using 1-2 engines only. Electro-mechanical platform of Universal Robot can be very cheap.

g. 

Low profile. UR is very stable and perfect for hidden operations due to extremely low profile and center of mass.

h. 

Robustness. UR is robust against damages and mine debris. UR can lose large number (up to 50%) of his legs and donít lost ability for locomotion.

i. 

Self-repair ability. Design of UR is perspective for self-repairs of legs (most vulnerable parts of drive of any legged robot).

j. 

Navigation and sensors. LIDAR will be a base for navigation of UR. For small and cheap versions of micro-URobots and specific application (rescue missions, tracking of humans, and security of objects) IR cameras or other simple sensors can be enough for effective performance of tasks.


Possible applications of the Universal Robot include:
- operations in different Earth terrains (deserts, snow fields, mountains, urban areas);
- amphibious operations, including mine-detection in shallow water;
- rescue missions in destroyed buildings, forests and mountains;
- security of convoys, camps and buildings;
- robotic missions on the Moon and Mars.

GIST partners for project of Universal Robot:
- General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, NC
- Re2, PA

Details of design of the Universal Robot considered by GIST as proprietary information and can be demonstrated after signing of a teaming agreement and NDA.

 
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