Six-Legged Mechanical Walkers: Spring 2020 Highlights

The design of these four-legged walkers uses two coordinated function generators to drive the hip and knee joints to achieve the desired foot trajectory. This differs from Jansen’s leg mechanism in the following ways: (i) separate cranks can be used to drive the hip and knee joints, rather than the same crank driving both joints; (ii) the drive of the hip joint need not be connected at the knee but can connect any where on the upper leg; and (iii) a true parallelogram is used to connect the drive around the hip down to the knee, whereas Jansen’s connection has one side slightly larger for both pairs (39.3, and 39.4 for one pair of sides, and 40.1 and 36.7 for the other pair). So these leg mechanisms can be viewed as generalizations of Jansen’s design.

Stable gait for these walkers can be achieved by coordinating three legs at a time to form a tripod gait.  Please see this video showing walkers designed by my students to be a crocodile, rhinoceros, bug, legged container and the Star Wars All-Terrain Tactical Enforcer, known as AT-TE. These assemblies of six 10-bar linkages connected by a gear train of as many as 18 gears posed a challenge to SolidWorks motion analysis for my students. We will get better at this.

Prototype Four-Legged Mechanical Walker

Kevin Chen and Arwa Tizani designed this four-legged mechanical walker using Curvature theory to identify a flat-sided coupler curve of a four-bar linkage. This curve was positioned to be the foot trajectory of the leg mechanism using a skew-pantograph.

Kevin collected the parts and assembled the walker. Here are his photos and video of its performance:

Four-Legged Mechanical Walkers: Spring 2020 Highlights

The design of these four-legged walkers relies on Curvature theory to find a flat-sided coupler curve of a four-bar linkage to be used for the foot trajectory. This coupler curve is repositioned using a skew pantograph. The result is a six-bar leg mechanism.

Stable gait for these walkers can be achieved by adding side-to-side foot extensions to broaden the support polygon during walking.

Please see this video showing walkers designed by my students to be a rabbit, two dogs, a bear, a rhinoceros, a dinosaur, and a centaur, as well as a legged platform, a legged syringe and the Star Wars All-Terrain Attack Transport, known as AT-AT.

The Design of Mechanical Walkers: Spring 2020 Student Projects

While isolated to slow infections of the Coronavirus, over 60 UCI students learned how to apply the principles of Curvature Theory and Finite-Position Synthesis to the design leg mechanisms for mechanical walkers.

Their first team project was a four-legged walker that used the coupler curve of a four-bar linkage positioned using a skew-pantograph as the foot trajectory. Here are videos that show animations of their walkers

This is the first video:

And this is the second:

The final team project used finite-position synthesis to design function generators to drive the hip and knee joints and guide the foot trajectory. This mechanism is a generalization of the Jansen leg mechanism. Teams of three students designed the leg mechanism, the drive system and assembled them into a six-legged walker. Here are the videos of these walkers.

This is the first video:

And this is the second video:

The variety of these walkers show the versatility of the kinematic synthesis procedures, as well as the creativity of the students. It was a pleasure working with the students on these projects even with the challenges of remote instruction.