Robot shows real muscle

21 June 2011

An innovative humanoid robot takes its engineering cues from the workings of the human body.

Officially called ECCEROBOT-2, an innovative robot, developed in the University of Zurich’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, has been built around a solid but flexible skeleton, covered with layers of mechanical tendons and muscle.

These muscles mimic their human counterparts using an elastic cord, attached to powerful servo motors, supplied by maxon motor, which wind or unwind depending on the direction of spin. The cord is connected to a marine-strength rubber rope, which emulates the elastic nature of natural muscles.

Around 80 DC motors power the robot’s various actuators. The resulting mechanisms are claimed to be the closest robotics engineers have yet come to replicating human versatility.

The design depends upon precise motors offering high torque in a limited space, and maxon motors were selected for the task of keeping the elastic at exactly the right tension and to work against its natural pull.

The creators were pleased with the motors chosen and have since decided to use maxon drives, gears and sensors in all humanoid robots developed at the University of Zurich’s AI Lab create going forward.

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