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Volume 22 Issue 3 - Publication Date: 1 March 2003
 
Parallel Complementary Strategies For Implementing Biological Principles Into Mobile Robots
 
Roger D. Quinn, Gabriel M. Nelson, Richard J. Bachmann, Daniel A. Kingsley, John T. Offi and Thomas J. Allen Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA and Roy E. Ritzmann Department of Biology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
 
Our goal is to use intelligent biological inspiration to develop robots that capture the capacity of animals to traverse complex terrain. We follow two distinct but complementary strategies to meet this goal. In one, we have produced a series of robots that have mechanical and control designs increasingly more similar to those of a cockroach. The leg designs of these robots ensure that they can generate movements used by the cockroach to walk and climb over a range of objects. However, in order to take advantage of these complex designs, we must first solve difficult problems in actuation, proprioception and control. The second parallel strategy seeks to capture the principles of biological movement, but in an abstract form that does not require complex platforms. Following the second strategy, we designed and built two new robots that each use only one propulsion motor to generate a nominal tripod gait. Gait changes similar to those used by the animal are accomplished through passive mechanisms. Rearing movements in anticipation of climbing are accomplished by way of a body flexion joint, which also allows the robot to avoid high-centering. The parallel development of these robotic lines provides the best of both worlds. The multi-segmented leg designs will ultimately be more versatile and agile than the abstracted line, but will take more effort to perfect. The simplified line provides short-term solutions that can be deployed immediately and confirm, in principle, the value of biological properties for complex locomotion.
 
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