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COMAN Compliant Humanoid

April 5, 2013

A group in the Department of Advanced Robotics at the Italian Institute of Technology has been hard at work building a child-sized humanoid they call COMAN (for COmplaint HuMANoid).

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.

[via IEEE Spectrum]

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