COMAN: Researchers build first fully-limbed passive compliant robot (w/ video)

Apr 10, 2013 by Bob Yirka weblog
COMAN Humanoid. Credit: IIT

(Phys.org) —Researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology with funding from the European AMARSI project have built the first passive compliant robot that features both arms and legs. Passive compliant robots are those that have flexible joints that allow the robot to move in more human-like ways. The new robot, called the COmpliant huMANoid (COMAN), is approximately the size of a child and is able to maintain its upright position even when knocked around.

Most robots, as demonstrated by various robotic development groups in videos posted to YouTube, have stiff joints, which result in jerky or stiff movement. The problem with such joints is that they make the robot unstable—a slight misstep could mean a fall or worse, injury to a person nearby. To smooth the gait and overall movement of robots, engineers have been investigating different types of flexible joint mechanisms. In this latest effort, the team used very small elastic actuators in the parts of the robot that need to flex or extend. They also added to each joint that allow the central processor to cause the actuators to respond very quickly to external events, such as encountering an inclined path, or to being run into by other objects or people. What's groundbreaking here is that the engineers created special compliant joints for so many areas of the 's body—a total of 25. COMAN has both arms and legs with joints and associated sensors in its , knees, hips, waist, , shoulder and neck. It walks with a more human gait and displays a very human-like ability to stand upright despite being knocked around by its makers.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

At just 94.5 cm tall and weighing in at 31.2 kg, COMAN appears far more approachable than most robots, despite the lack of a head—the team says they plan to add one at some point—and for that reason it seems more likely to be deployed as a domestic servant, rather than as a soldier or tool for disaster assistance as seems to be the case with so many other robots being developed.

CAD assembly of the COMAN ankle modules. Credit: IIT

As part of their research effort, the team also developed a way to calculate the optimal joint elasticity for the various joints—current methods rely on trial and error. That should help speed up the development of passive compliant robots as the group has shared what they've learned with others.

Explore further: Telerobotics puts robot power at your fingertips

More information: COmpliant HuMANoid Platform (COMAN): www.iit.it/en/robots/coman.html

via IEEE

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User comments : 20

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Sonhouse
2.5 / 5 (6) Apr 10, 2013
I notice they are not trying very hard to knock it around:)
El_Nose
2.8 / 5 (5) Apr 10, 2013
its a prototype -- you don't try to destroy your prototype -- you build it -- show feasibility -- then ask for more money to make it stronger -- then when it learns how to access the internet you ... well at least I want to be on record because, well ...

I for one welcome our new COMAN overlords.
grondilu
3.8 / 5 (9) Apr 10, 2013
its a prototype -- you don't try to destroy your prototype --


I for one remember quite well the Video of someone kicking Big Dog pretty hard.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (14) Apr 10, 2013
its a prototype -- you don't try to destroy your prototype --


I for one remember quite well the Video of someone kicking Big Dog pretty hard.
And as I remember it didn't do so well.
http://www.youtub...a_player

-Something extremely disturbing about this vid-
Mayday
4.3 / 5 (7) Apr 10, 2013
The next prototype will push back. It will have anti-bullying software.
atomsk
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 10, 2013
I for one remember quite well the Video of someone kicking Big Dog pretty hard.

Well, both engeneering teams had probably different design specification, being extremly shock-resistant was one for the Big Dog but maybe not here.
Mike_Massen
2.6 / 5 (5) Apr 10, 2013
Asimov crafted an interesting scifi short story re people's nature changing when they could openly and readily abuse robots, presumably as an emotional outlet, when they otherwise had obvious (cultural and educated) restrictions to abusing humans. Cant recall the scifi story...

I also feel disturbed a bit re the video like TheGhostofOtto1923 (maybe) ;)

Sensations of anthropomorphic child abuse arise and a feeling the 'testers' should be up for some form of admonishment !

One wonders if, in a decade or so, the robot paradigm might be used as a test case to determine if people can exercise their inherent laws of humanity by way of exposure to robots as means to determine if some will have propensity to violence against humans...

Eg. If any human can harm an animal and not show any sense of sympathy or empathy would you want them as a child care or aged care worker re family and especially so if they see the job as a chore and actually 'drag their feet' (clue re self observation) ?
krundoloss
1.6 / 5 (10) Apr 10, 2013
When this thing gets pushed over and catches itself or does a full graceful back roll, then I will be impressed. I like when people push the envelope a bit, these baby steps are weak and have been going on for a long time. When did that Honda robot come out? Anyway, when you have a robot without a cable attached to it, that can recognize people and the environment, and can recover from a fall like a ninja, then I will be impressed.
nkalanaga
3 / 5 (4) Apr 10, 2013
How about putting the ankle and foot on prosthetics for humans?
Eikka
5 / 5 (7) Apr 10, 2013
When this thing gets pushed over and catches itself or does a full graceful back roll, then I will be impressed. I like when people push the envelope a bit, these baby steps are weak and have been going on for a long time.


This is not a baby step. This is a game changing advancement that solves many of the biggest problems in humanoid robots.

To you it might seem like same old same old, but in reality compliant joints are what allow passive dynamic walking which is what robots have been woefully unable to do, which has meant that they spend extraordinary amounts of energy to simply walk and look extremely silly doing it with their bent knees and geriatric gait.

It allows a robot to step and lock its knee, while allowing the other leg to swing forward under its own momentum without using any motor power. It instantly results in human walking.
trekgeek1
3.3 / 5 (7) Apr 10, 2013
I notice they are not trying very hard to knock it around:)


It's a robot, not a trailer park wife.
rwinners
1 / 5 (1) Apr 10, 2013
Poor kid is pigeon toed!
bajajulio
1 / 5 (2) Apr 10, 2013
The term "Passive Compliant" is NOT a term I feel good about.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (11) Apr 10, 2013
The term "Passive Compliant" is NOT a term I feel good about
Not to worry. Soon little passive aggressive robots will be able to do this:
http://www.youtub...a_player

(I wonder why Yoda did not think to just move the guy out from under the large tank thing with his mind? Robots will not make this mistake.)
gwrede
1 / 5 (1) Apr 11, 2013
The term "Passive Compliant" is NOT a term I feel good about.
Agreed. It sounds ominous and stealthy in the wrong way.

But on this video it looks much more natural and smooth than what we see on Boston Dynamics (another ominous and Terminatorish name) videos. At the rate with which robotics is developing right now, I can't even imagine what we'll see next year.

tkjtkj
not rated yet Apr 11, 2013
Re: rwinners "Poor kid is pigeon toed!"

It's probable that such angulation is to compensate for the robot's inability to laterally move its CG to be over the centerline of its foot as it takes a step. Were we to trace the pathway of our naval as we walk along we would see that in 3D it moves as a spiral, with a radius of several inches .. this maintains balance. 'Toe-ing in' as i see it compensates for this inability of the femur (upper legbone) / pelvic socket joint to achieve the same result. The robot's 'hip' joint seems to have only one plane of 'swinging' .. Living humans (as opposed to the dead and rigorous kind) 's hips do not merely move that way : hips move laterally as well, which is not designed into this model.
So, yeah, 'pigeon-toes' can be useful! the toe of the foot crosses over the centerline of the wgt/mass of the torso .. clever yes...

Were I a misogynist i might suggest viewing the hip motions of a sexy girl walking, but im no such type of person, so i can't..
Mike_Massen
3 / 5 (2) Apr 12, 2013
tkjtkj unwittingly showed embarrassment
Were I a misogynist i might suggest viewing the hip motions of a sexy girl walking, but im no such type of person, so i can't
Beg Pardon re "misogynist" !!!!

There is absolutely nothing negative or controlling or demanding of female gender whatsoever in recognising the beauty and gait of a well equipped bipedal biological organism (of suitable chromosomes) which has the bulk of its appeal arranged for the completely natural imperative of continued procreation and the joy achieved by practice of the same in many combinations to elicit pleasure by way of social interaction or other such intercourse where we are equipped to do so by any means at our disposal...

The "misogynist" is about hate, I am all for the opposite in clear substantive terms and will exercise that paradigm on those frequent occasions I approach that independent part of nature suitably clothed or otherwise with those purely benign mutual urges both appear to enjoy so much.
megmaltese
1 / 5 (4) Apr 14, 2013
Dunno why, but italian stuff always look so poor...
VendicarE
1 / 5 (3) Apr 14, 2013
"Italian stuff always look so poor" - Megmathese

Really?

http://www.alfabb...ta_3.jpg

http://www.alfabb...babe.jpg

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-bx2TT1o0h9g/T15J_vuP7YI/AAAAAAAAASs/JJo-0R0lYxo/s1600/maria mazza.jpg

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kY84UfayEyE/T15IYAiUYII/AAAAAAAAASc/JqOtr6IFYnc/s1600/rosaria-cannavo-04-f.jpg

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-iESdM0ZBkKM/T15MlDIuU7I/AAAAAAAAATs/e4e5e5_d4Oc/s1600/Monica-Bellucci-Pictures-Latest-3.jpg
tkjtkj
not rated yet Apr 15, 2013
tkjtkj unwittingly showed embarrassment
Were I a misogynist


Im glad you saw my humor ... ;)