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U of Arizona’s Cheetah Robot Taking Shape

There’s a new Cheetah robot in town, or at least half of one (not to be confused with this other project from MIT, the Cheebot from CMU, or this one by Boston Dynamics) thanks to Tony Lewis and undergraduate student Matt Bunting at the University of Arizona’s Robotics & Neural Systems Lab.  Matt made a name for himself when he built a hexapod robot that got picked up by Intel.

The research team presented their work on the Cheetah Robot’s hind limbs at ICRA 2011, but sadly the video described in the paper hasn’t popped up just yet (the leg is said to be shown kicking out from a crouched position with tremendous speed and force).  The legs make use of a hybrid actuator concept where electric motors (RX-64s) are used for fine positioning combined with bursts of energy provided by pneumatic actuators.  The legs’ plastic shells were designed in Solidworks and printed on the lab’s 3D printer.  The feet are stubs because, as robots like BigDog have shown, there isn’t a whole lot needed down there (though I guess they may add some sort of springy suspension).

Looks pretty cool so far, doesn’t it?  I can’t wait to see it completed, but I’m a bit confused about the hips: they have only one degree of freedom.  That means the robot won’t be able to spread its legs like the cheetah in the above photo, which will certainly limit its running potential.  Consider, too, the lateral movement of BigDog’s legs, which is integral to its amazing balance.  See more photos of the legs at the source link below.

[source: IntelFreePress @ Flickr]

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