Now Available on Amazon
In this book, we present the detailed design of mechanical walking robots that are driven by a single motor. These walkers rely on specially designed leg mechanisms coordinated by gear trains in order to walk, rather than multiple computer controlled motors per leg. The result is a simplified walking robot that provides a platform for other mechanical and electronic functions.
Two, four and six legged walkers are presented that implement different types of leg mechanisms and power trains. In each case, we provide drawings for a laser cut wood or acrylic chassis, 3D printed parts and a complete parts list. Several of the designs implement an additional motor for steering as well as electronic components and software for speed control.
Our goal is to provide enthusiasts of all backgrounds what they need to build a walking robot at home, to explore new design ideas, and, perhaps, to enjoy the operation of one of these robots as it moves across the ground.
The paperback version is available from Amazon.
I have seen intercollegiate engineering competitions like the Baja Validation Event organized by SAE International become important educational experiences. Working together to accomplish a complex task, forces students to become engineers. They see first-hand the benefits of integrated design, simulation, fabrication and testing. And perhaps, more importantly, they learn to work as a team, communicating effectively, meeting responsibilities, respecting differences, and pushing toward a shared goal.
This video captures the results of the work of the 2021 UCI Baja Race Team, who designed, built and tested their vehicle while under the severe pandemic restrictions. I hope you see the commitment and hard work of these young engineers under uniquely difficult circumstances show that our future is in good hands.
Repurposing Jansen’s Leg Mechanism:
Innovative mechanical flyers were designed by student teams in my Kinematic Synthesis class based on a repurposed version of Jansen’s leg mechanism. The artist Theo Jansen has inspired many of my students with his dramatic assemblies of leg mechanisms to form his Strandbeest wandering on a beach under the power of a sea breeze.
A generalization of Jansen’s leg has the hip and knee joints driven by separate four-bar function generators to provide a wide variety of foot trajectories. This generalized version of Jansen’s linkage can be adapted to form a wing mechanism that has a desired wing-tip trajectory.
This video shows the Geogebra model of a wing mechanism based on Jansen’s linkage, and three digital prototypes of mechanical flyers obtained by my students using this mechanism.
I am pleased to provide the presentations from the 2012 National Science Foundation Workshop on 21st Century Kinematics. These presentations provide insight to the challenges and opportunities for research in mechanical systems and robotics.
The NSF Workshop on 21st Century Kinematics at the 2012 ASME IDETC Conference in Chicago, IL on August 11-12, 2012 consisted of a series of presentations and a book of supporting material prepared by the workshop contributors.
The book is available at amazon.com: 21st Century Kinematics–The 2012 NSF Workshop.
And here are the presentations given at the workshop.
- Computer-Aided Invention of Mechanisms and Robots. J. Michael McCarthy, Professor, University of California, Irvine.
- Mechanism Synthesis for Modeling Human Movement Vincenzo Parenti-Castelli, Professor, University of Bologna.
- Algebraic Geometry and Kinematic Synthesis. Manfred Husty, Professor, University of Innsbruck.
- Kinematic Synthesis of Compliant Mechanisms. Larry Howell, Professor, Brigham Young University.
- Kinematics and Numerical Algebraic Geometry. Charles Wampler, Technical Fellow, General Motors Research and Development.
- Kinematic Analysis of Cable Robotic Systems. Vijay Kumar, Professor, University of Pennsylvania.
- Protein Kinematics. Kazem Kazerounian, Professor, University of Connecticut.
- Development of Fast Pick and Place Robots. Jorge Angeles, Professor, McGill University.
- Kinestatic Analysis of Mechanisms with Compliant Elements. Carl Crane, Professor, University of Florida.
It seems time to consider another similar workshop for 2022.
Brandon Tsuge describes how to assemble the controller for two motors to drive the right and left sides of a walking machine using an RC transmitter and controller. See The Bored Robot: Using a DC Brushed Motor with a Rotary Encoder.
Kevin Chen, J. Michael McCarthy, Shaun Bentley
The design and assembly of our four-legged mechanical walkers can yield single degree-of-freedom systems with so many redundant mates that it stalls SolidWorks’ Motion Analysis. For example, the walker shown in Figure 1 had 782 redundant mates. The procedure outlined below reduced the number of redundant mates to 114, and Motion Analysis executed efficiently.
Our walker consists of a body, drive train, and four legs. The legs mechanisms are identical but assembled as front-to-back mirror images. The component parts of this walker mates were assembled using mates to align and coordinate various subassemblies, resulting in a large number of redundant mates.
In order to reduce the number of redundant mates, we dissolve the subassemblies, combine rigid elements, and mate new subassemblies as follows.
Dissolve all of the subassemblies in the walker. To do this, hover over each assembly and select the menu item Dissolve Assembly. See Figure 1.
Form new subassemblies for each leg, the drive train, and the body. See Figure 2. To do this, first, hover over the part, press “tab” to hide the part in order to identify it easily; and then, select all of the hidden parts, and right-click to open menu and select Form New Subassembly.
Within each new subassembly combine parts that do not move relative to each other. See Figure 3. The tree structure should consist of separate assemblies of rigid elements with the remaining mates between the assemblies. See Figure 4.
Repeat Step 3 for all of the new subassemblies. The result is shown in Figure 5.
Delete the mates in the main assembly. Introduce the mates required for movement using hinge mates, rather than coincident or concentric mates, where possible.
Make the subassemblies at the top-level flexible. Right-click on the assembly and select the flexible assembly icon .
The result of this procedure is a system with 114 redundant mates that Motion Analysis can process effectively. The result is that animation shown below.
The leg mechanisms of these six-legged walkers use 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.
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:
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.