Agility: Gyroscopic Stabilisation
Do a quick survey of robotics projects today and a majority, if not > 90%, of them will be electrically driven and stabilised by solid state (MEMS) chips driving feedback servos. In a word: compensate. If you’re anything like me, walking is not an exercise is preventing falling over – rather it is a fluid motion with a purpose. I find many of the (albeit great!) projects out there discouraging – because they don’t walk like a human, but like a machine.
Measure - measure - measure - adjust - adjust - Meep! Meep!
If platforms such as the International Space Station took this approach, they’d be firing thrusters all the time to adjust orientation (which poses a minor fuel problem). But that is not what they do! The ISS uses control moment gyroscopic stabilisation to keep things in line (and only use thrusters when gyros need a bit of a reset).
What happens when this logic is applied to earth-bound vehicles or walking robots? You get fluid like stabilisation that the Lit Motors C-1 exhibits:
Related: Gyro: The Heart of a Mech
I love reading about all the 3D printing improvements made in the past couple of years. It really is lowering the bar to participation in this Maker Revolution. Close cousin in the 3D printing family are the DIY CNC machines, new laser sintering projects and more.
However, I’m not sure these really help nudge us toward building large-scale robotic projects. Okay, I agree, some parts will be manufactured using one of these methods, but there are still some real knowledge gaps that need to be filled as well as some industrial engineering and machining challenges. I won’t go on about welding and steel cutting, instead let’s talk about the finer details of locomotion.
It’s inevitable that the Revolution will get to these Heavier Duty issues as it grows, but it’s worth talking about sooner than later to get the cards on the table. This is partly why I started this blog, to help identify the key components needed and, hopefully, see how to work through and tackle them. Continue reading
The overlap between guidance systems and mechanical stabilisation systems is one of our primary areas of interest, as similar physics are at play. See the video description for more on Mr. Wright.