COMAN is one of the new breed of robots making good use of compliance, that is, joints that have a bit of give. Ordinarily, servomotors hold their position as rigidly as they can. That can be tuned in any modern smart servo by tweaking the holding current, but the compliance obtained in that way doesn’t store and recover energy, as our own tendons do.
COMAN adds compliance through the use of series elastic actuators, which connect the servo to the joint via springs. These allow the joints to absorb reaction forces, for example when the foot strikes the ground during walking, in a way that not only saves energy, but simplifies the control algorithms. Compliant joints also make the robot safer to be around, since it’s less likely to crush things that get in its way.
While other robots (such as the new Baxter industrial robot) make use of series elastic actuators or other forms of compliance, COMAN is the first humanoid to have compliance in all limbs.
Check out the new video showing off COMAN’s ability to stand on a moving platform, deal with an incline, and handling pushes without falling down. Read more…
A new video has been posted on DARPA’s YouTube channel, showing a two-armed robot changing a tire.
The Maker Scouts is a weekly scouting program for young children (4-10) who are ready and interested in Tinkering and Making with different materials and tools. The Maker Scouts program provides young Makers learning opportunities in STEAM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math] education through four 12 week sessions, each of which focus on critical thinking, design, and building with hand-on activities.
Activities are designed to help the youngest makers become safe, proficient users of making tools and materials on their way to discovering their passion and language of self expression. The program also provides young people learning opportunities that foster the core values of the Innovator Mindset– embracing failure, frustration tolerance, communication, collaboration, creativity and empathy.
Like other scouting groups, Maker Scouts receive badges (which they can collect on their work aprons) for making skills, as well as demonstration of a very sensible and inclusive set of Core Values. Unlike some other scouting groups, Maker Scouts welcomes all interested children between the ages of 4-10. Their recent meeting of Maker Scouts Los Angeles attracted equal numbers of girls and boys, who built and played musical instruments. Other activities span a wide range of skills:
Maker Scouts MAKE robots, sew upcycled clothing , play with circuits, invent games, use e-textiles, build with wood, metal, plastic, make cardboard creations, play with food, tinker with real tools, shoot off rockets, invent real world solutions to real world problems and so much more.
For older kids, a sister organization called Hacker Scouts is available.
My hat is off to everyone involved in these organizations. STEM jobs are growing so fast that employers often can’t find people to fill them. And even kids who don’t grow up to work in a STEM career will benefit greatly from the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that STEM activities build. Working with kids can be challenging, but we owe it to them to give them every opportunity we can to stretch their minds and build stuff.
Maker Scouts is just getting started, so give some thought to how you can help them in your area!
YouTube user “Hinamitetu” (whom we’ve seen before) has posted another amazing video of his work in robot gymnastics. His latest creation, “No. 14,” adds a new degree of freedom that allows it to twist at the shoulders. The builder kindly shows us some of the motors used in the robot, weighs it in at nearly 3 kg, and then gives us a demonstration. Watch to the end for the amazing dismount.
Here’s a fun video pointed out at Robots-Dreams. It shows five Hovis Genie robots doing a choreographed dance to “I Got a Boy” by SNSD, a hugely popular Korean pop group. The Hovis Genie is just like the Hovis Eco humanoid robot, with two differences: each robot carries a cell phone (or similar mobile device) on its chest, and the legs have been replaced by a 3-omniwheel platform. The omniwheels allow each robot to rotate or move in any direction, including straight sideways.