As robots become more embedded in our daily lives, robotics engineers are consistently looking at nature for robot design inspiration. Studying how animals move and function and using that in robotics has become a trend.
We’ve already seen robots based on spiders, crabs and monkeys. Most impressively, we’ve seen really fast robots, specifically DARPA’s Cheetah, which can run as fast as 29 miles per hour. Now, a team of engineers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have created Raptor, a robot inspired by something much cooler than a cat: a velociraptor.
Obviously, since velociraptors have been extinct for a really long time, the research team couldn’t study one in action, but we know a lot about how these particular animals moved in the wild based on our study of fossils. We know that they were really, really fast, and that had a lot to do with the structure of their bodies. Like a velociraptor, their Raptor robot has two legs and a tail, which gives it speed and stability.
The Raptor has an onboard computer program that controls both gait and speed. Researchers made the legs from a carbon and epoxy composite, which gives it strength and a lot of freedom of movement. Each leg also has its own motor. The researchers mimicked an Achilles tendon on top of the legs to absorb shock while the robot runs, as well as hold on to energy expended while running. And its tail not only helps the robot maintain stability at high speeds, but it also helps it overcome obstacles thrown in its path.
In a treadmill test, Raptor hit up to 28 miles per hour. That’s still a little slower than Cheetah, but because Velociraptor is a smaller and more lightweight, it can go places Cheetah can’t. The research team hope to speed up Raptor even more, though, so expect it to win the fastest robot race soon. Raptor is also faster than Usain Bolt, the fastest human being. So if you ever expect to outrun a swarm of Raptor robots in the future, forget it, because you’ll lose.
Via IEEE Spectrum