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An Anthropomimetic Robot

A group of researchers at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Belgrade is developing a world unique anthropomimetic robot.

ETF Robotics research group, consisting of PhD, MSc or BSc students at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Belgrade and supervised by prof. Veljko Potkonjak,  is doing a great science in the field of robot dynamics, design, control and its applications.

The group is a partner in the EU funded FP7 project ECCEROBOT, which aim is to create the anthropomimetic robot with the body that moves and interacts with the physical world in the same way human body does. In addition, the international significance of the project is reflected in the composition of the consortium project – on this project, the ETF partners with the major European academic institutions such as University of Sussex, Technical University of Munich, University of Zurich and the French company The Robot Studio.

The ETF Robotics group is developing a humanoid robot by copying the overall form of human body and its inner structures: bones, muscles, joints and tendons. For this purpose, the researchers are using several materials such as thermoplastic polymer (polymorph which is used for making “bones”), elastic cords, and other soft, flexible materials to create the torso, arms, and hands. And the result is fascinating: there is no fear that ECCE robot will crush your bones when you shake hands with it!

 

Eccerobot

“A view at the history is showing that through the centuries, even since ancient legends, a desire of a man to create his own copy – an artificial man – existed. These are the roots of the robotic science, “said prof. Potkonjak in one of his texts[1]. “This is the explanation to the extreme popularity of robotics. The use of robots is clear – they should make our lives easier in many ways: to help us to make a dinner or watch the kids, but also they could replace the people whose jobs are life-threatening”, says Kosta Jovanovic, a PhD student, member of ETF Robotics, and teaching assistant at Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Belgrade.

It is necessary that robots look as humans to get into our lives and be generally accepted. However, there is still a lot of work on robots’ coordination and dexterity to be done so they could perform the actions as humans do.

ETF Robotics role in the ECCEROBOT project regards engineering analysis & control theory: they are developing a mathematical model for the upper body of the anthropomorphic robot with elastic joints, evaluating different control strategies applicable to elastic-joint systems, and testing of the latest robot model, ECCE3.

The challenge of controlling this system is that it is multi-joint robot. The joints are driven by a pair of “muscles” acting like agonist and antagonist. “Muscles” consist of DC motor and inelastic rope which is attached to the bone with elastic, expendable element (“tendon”), thus imitating human anatomy and physiology. The current challenge in the development of the robot is how to engage appropriate sensors to control the force, i.e. “muscle” load control.

ECCEROBOT is designed as a home robot. Although there are still 10 to 15 years to go until final product developed, the ETF Robotics research group has already won several awards for their contribution in the development of anthropomorphic robots. The latest success was the first place at the 17th International Cultural and Academic Meeting of Engineering Students (ICAMES 2011) in Istanbul!

“Currently there are two ECCE robots – one in Munich and the second in Zurich. Serial production and modern technologies would require extremely high costs, so commercial production is still something we don’t consider so serious”, says Mr. Jovanovic.

ETF Robotics’ future plan includes development and production of single robot’s body part. It will be an arm: wrist, elbow and shoulder. It is already agreed that French company The Robot Studio, their partner in ECCEROBOT project, will help the group to place this product on the market.

Detailed list of publications, which author or coauthor is a professor Veljko Potkonjak, ETF Robotics’ coordinator, is represented on web page http://robot.etf.rs/index.php/publication/.


[1] T. Fukuda, R. Michelini, V. Potkonjak, S. Tzafestas, K. Valavanis, M. Vukobratovic, “How Far Away is “Artificial Man” , IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, March 2001.

 

Source: www.inovacionifond.rs