Tuesday, 19 Apr, 2011 Technology
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Concept of the Day: HECTOR - Scaled-up Robotic Insect

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In order to understand how animals move researchers from the University of Bielefeld's Center of Excellence 'Cognitive Interaction Technology' (CITEC) decided to come up with a hexapod walking robot dubbed HECTOR. The name of the robot is an acronym that stands for Hexapod Cognitive autonomously Operating Robot.

The small robotic insect will be used in different experiments. It boasts 6 legs connected by 18 joints, and 3 body segments with two joints. Each joint makes use of a new kind of bioinspired, self-contained, elastic joint drive and each drive features sensors, complete control electronics and even its own processor.

In addition, in each drive there's a sensorized elastic coupling. The latter makes it possible for the robot's leg joints to be managed with the help of biologically inspired control algorithms. These algorithms allow HECTOR to respond by yielding during impacts or interactions with humans.

The robot also has a very durable exoskeleton created using fiber reinforced plastic. Through light, it allows HECTOR to carry heavy loads.

Due to the fact that the robot was built to be used for different projects, HECTOR boasts a special body design that allows sensor equipment to be switched for a particular research. For instance, a camera used for near- and long-range sensing can be replaced with a tactile antenna for investigate the surroundings.

The developers of the robots now have the goal of providing their invention the ability to learn and plan ahead. Thus HECTOR will be able to travel through unknown territories and perform various exploration missions by itself, reports PlasticPals.

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