Boadicea - Biological Inspirations

One emphasis of this project was to look at insect locomotion for ideas about how to build walking robots. Bob Full, Rodger Kram, and their colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, have been a wellspring of useful information [Full 94] [Kram 94] [Full, et al 89] [Kram, et al 94]. We have discussed different aspects of robot design and insect locomotion throughout the course of this research.

Blaberus Discoidalis [Kram, et al 94]

Force measurements

Robot designers have traditionally assumed that a legged machine should produce vertical reaction forces at each foot to minimize the required force. Full has found, however, that insects often produce opposing horizontal forces with their legs to reduce joint torque requirements[Full 90]. For legged robots, actuator torque is frequently a design constraint. Abandoning the assumption that foot forces should be vertical may ease the limitations imposed by these limits.

Dynamic stability

Full and his colleagues' results indicate that nearly all legged animals are dynamically stable [Full, et al 89], [Full and Tu 90] and [Full and Tu 91]. Robot designers, however, have traditionally assumed that six and eight legged animals maintain static stability. They have strived to build machines that move the body horizontally at constant velocity in order to minimize energy efficiency. The data from Full's lab, however, indicate that this may not be the best approach. It is also interesting to see that the whole-body dynamics of animal locomotion are similar, even for animals with radically different structure.

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