Posts Tagged ‘2011’

2011 – “Mystic Mec” Meccano Automaton – Chris Shute (British)

Above Photo by Chris Shute

A Meccano machine to read your palm. Built in 5 months from mostly modern Meccano parts and 13 salvaged motors. All 24 electrical switches and the 32 – step Sequencer are made from Meccano. Mystic Mec will choose an almost 'random' letter to hint at your future. Working eyelids, index fingers among other things….
The video doesn't tell you the final secret of how Mystic Mec managed to 'predict' the initials of many of my Meccano friends who had their palms read at our exhibitions. You saw that the letter drum will adavance automaticaly to stop the left arm at a new letter. The selected stopping point can be seen through a small shrouded window at the left of the drum. Now the crafty bit: the drum can also be advanced by a second motor (black, bottom left at 4.15). This extra motor is part of the Meccano Infra-red control set. The remote handset will just about operate through thin trouser pockets!

Mystic Mec
Let Mystic Mec read your palm! Using her special powers, Mec will choose a letter for you. Perhaps your name, your home, a friend or a glimpse of the future. Who knows?
Mystic Mec is (almost) entirely made from Meccano parts, except for her luscious lips and curly hair. All the electrical parts are built from Meccano, including nineteen limit switches for the various motors.
Most of the motors have been salvaged from old video and cassette recorders. Each has a single belt reduction before minimal gearing or a screwed-rod ram, e.g. the fingers, head-tilt and eyelid mechanisms. Mystic Mec's head is mounted on a built-up roller bearing. Motors for her eyelids and head-tilt are fitted below the neck, working through linkages which pass through the slotted holes of the Circular Plates. A switch on the eyelids will automatically cut power to the eyes' light bulbs when closed.
Under the table, a 32 step sequencer selects each motion in turn. As each limb completes it movement, a limit switch diverts the power back towards the Sequencer, to advance it and begin the next operation. Mec's mouth is connected in parallel with the Sequencer motor. This allows her to 'chatter' between each limb movement, and so avoids any 'dead' time between operations.
The Sequencer is a stand-alone unit, which can be reprogrammed simply by re-arranging the colour-coded leads, which connect to the various motor wires via paperclips on isolated curved Meccano strips. Beneath the curved strips is a device to reverse the polarity of the supply to the motors, when required, to change the direction of travel.
Chris Shute
Wem, Shropshire

Mystec Mec, by the way, is female, inspired by the former UK lottery-predicting lady, Mystic Meg. The model has a modest, breathing bosom, a sort of homage to the 18th Century Automata.
 
Unfortunately, she was dismantled in 2012 to make way for other projects.

Chris Shute with "Mystic Mec"

Photos by Rob Thompson.

Images and captions from www.nzmeccano.com .

A 32 step sequencer selects each motion in turn. As each limb completes it movement, a limit switch diverts the power back towards the Sequencer, to advance it and complete the next operation. Mec's mouth is connected in parallel with the Sequencer motor. This allows her to 'chatter' between each limb movement, and so avoids any 'dead' time between operations. 

The sequencer is a stand-alone unit, which can be re-programmed simply by re-arranging the colour-coded leads, which connect to the various motor wires via paperclips on isolated curved Meccano strips. Beneath the curved strips is a device to reverse the polarity of the supply to the motors, when required, to change the direction of travel.

Detail of Head by Chris Shute. Nice earings!


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2011 – “Ant-Roach” – Otherlab (American)

Here is the Otherlab’s 15 foot inflatable walking robot, the Ant-Roach.  We thought this conceptual elephant looked more like a cross between an anteater and a cockroach.  The goal of building the Ant-Roach was to demonstrate the carrying capacity and high strength-to-weight ratios possible with inflatable structures.

Comments November 21, 2011 by Travis Deyle of Hizook – see original article here.

"I'm really excited about inflatable robots… they have the potential to be low-cost, lightweight, extremely powerful, and yet "human safe" — ie. perfect for many robotics applications.  With that in mind, I would like to introduce you to two new (breakout) inflatable robots: a 15-foot-long walking robot (a Pneubot named Ant-Roach) and a complete, inflatable robot arm (plus hand).  Both of these robots were developed by Otherlab as part of their "pneubotics" project (in collaboration with Meka Robotics and Manu Prakash at Stanford University), with some funding from DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program.    These robots use textile-based, inflatable actuators that contract upon inflation into specially-designed shapes to effect motion.   Since these robots are built out of lightweight fabric-and-air structural members and powered via pneumatics or hydraulics, they exhibit large strength-to-weight ratios.  For example, Ant-Roach is less than 70 lbs and can probably support up to 1000 lbs; the inflatable robot arm is less than 2 lbs and can lift a few hundred pounds at 50-60 psi.  Be sure to read on for details and lots of videos!"


Picture above shows Pete Lynn hefting the whole thing.

The muscles are textile-based actuators which contract upon inflation.  The picture above shows a stack of them during construction.

The muscles are driven from several central manifolds which dispense compressed air.


All pictures and captions sourced from Otherlabs webpage unless noted otherwise. See Otherlabs webpage and other videos here.


See other Pneumatic, Fluidic, and Inflatable robots here.


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2011 – Inflatable Robot Arm and Hand – Otherlab (American)

Otherlab's prototype articulated inflatable robot arm,  is apparently able to lift a person with 50-60 psi even though it weighs only 2 pounds.

All pictures and captions sourced from Otherlabs webpage unless noted otherwise. See Otherlabs webpage and other videos here.


See other Pneumatic, Fluidic, and Inflatable robots here.


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2011 – Inflatable Walking Elephant – Otherlab (Saul Griffith)

Pneubot stands for "pneumatic robot", or a robot that is actuated by pneumatic technology. A pneumatic technology involves the use of compressed air to drive mechanical motion. The compressed air can be moved through soft, balloon-like tubes, which allows for both rigidity (when filled) and flexibility (when decompressed or empty). In this video, an elephant-shaped pneubot is used to demonstrate the level of motor control allowed using this technology.

MAKE #27
Pneubotics: Walking Bouncy Castles
By Saul Griffith

Sometimes I feel like a false nerd, or a geek with two important genes missing: I’m not particularly interested in space exploration, except as fiction, and I’ve never cared for robots. So I find it strange that I’m now working on a Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) robotics program.

I think what I never liked about robots is that they’re complex machines that really don’t do much. They’re fragile and very expensive. I like simple, robust things; things that don’t cost more than they should.

What I’ve found myself working on (with Jack Bachrach, Geoffrey Irving, Pete Lynn, and the good guys from Meka Robotics) is completely soft, completely compliant, very lightweight, and very cheap. No joints. No servos. Just skins — inflated skins.

For a long while I’ve been fascinated by inflatable objects for their extreme strength-to-weight ratios (they can carry a lot of load for very little mass). I also love the challenge of designing something “human safe,” in the robotics lexicon. Biology doesn’t use metal, and it doesn’t use servos. Nature points to some very interesting alternatives.

To make it work, we had to invent a new kind of actuator. Think of it as a vascular system for robots. It’s fluidic — works equally well with air or water — and by pumping either of those around, you can change the dimensions of the skin and effect motion. Our first actuator was quite literally a bicycle inner tube in a sewn pair of membranes. It worked really well for a $5 prototype!

For the next trial, I asked my sister to return an inflatable 4-foot-high elephant I’d designed and given to my niece. When it arrived, Pete burned the midnight oil and sewed up some vascular “muscles,” and in a day or two we had four moving legs. It actually walked. About one mile every 24 hours, but hey — baby’s first steps! It moves like no machine you’ve ever seen; more like the way biology moves. A walking inflatable elephant might sound ridiculous, but it works, and the numbers on paper told us it should have incredible strength, good speed, extremely low weight, and cost very, very little to manufacture.

The next prototype was designed to walk with a human rider on it and to look less like an elephant. We built it in under a week for less than $1,000 in parts. A 15-foot-long, 5-foothigh robot with 28 muscle actuators (four in each of six legs, another four in the trunk). It worked too (after a few exploded actuators).

I like the idea of a robot you can sew together. I like that it has no heavy, sharp, or costly parts. Most of all, I like the intellectual challenges of it. There aren’t any CAD packages for designing highly elastic kinetic membrane structures. We had to write our own. There aren’t any analysis simulations. We had to write our own. There aren’t any walking bouncy castles out there. We built our own! We call our weird new style of robotics “pneubotics,” as in pneu for air (like pneumatic).

Who knows if the robotics community will like it or even care. Either way, that’s not why I built it. I built it because perhaps my niece will forgive me if she gets a walking elephant next Christmas that she can ride to school.


All pictures and captions sourced from Otherlabs webpage unless noted otherwise. See Otherlabs webpage and other videos here.

OtherLab is a collective of scientists and inventors involved in a number of projects, including proof-of-concept mechatronics that might be useful in building functionally adaptive and intelligent machines.


See other Pneumatic, Fluidic, and Inflatable robots here.


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2011 – “Iron Stallion” and other Mechanical Walking Machines – Carter Sharer (American)

Iron Stallion (Pedal Horse)

Carter's linkages remind me somewhat of Alzetta's 1933 horse.  Longer legs, a more powerful motor, lower centre of gravity, steering and one could ride this machine bicycle-like. You start and stop with the person's feet touching the surface of the road. The ride would be a bit bumpy but swift – something lacking in almost all walking machines.


Two horses bolted together give you "Clyde-n-Dale".


Home-made PETMAN – Human Walkers


Spider Machine


Dodeca Machine


See Carter Sharer's website here.

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