Run, dino, run

Louise Smyth

A dinosaur powered by motors? Anja Schütz explains all

A dinosaur on a treadmill isn’t something you see every day – unless you happen running at the laboratories of the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and weighs a mere 3kg. Its two feet are made of carbon fibre Technology (KAIST). Researchers there have developed a robot that can run at speeds of up to 46km/h. It uses high-performance brushless motors by maxon.

‘Raptor’ is the name of this agile robot, which is the fastest two-legged robot in the world. A 100m dash at this speed would take only 7.8 seconds. For comparison, the current world record by Usain Bolt is 9.58 seconds.

The researchers at KAIST modelled their robot’s design on a velociraptor dinosaur. The robosaur took the researchers two years to develop. The design goal of running at high speeds over gravel and on paved roads is rather challenging. Raptor is just under 50cm tall and weighs a mere 3kg. Its two feet are made of carbon fibre reinforced plastic. An artificial tendon tenses every time a foot comes down, storing energy for the next step.

Each leg of the robot is driven by a brushless maxon DC motor. The drive systems consist of a 200W high- performance EC-4pole 30 motor, combined with a GP 32 HP planetary gearhead and an MR encoder. These are controlled via a maxon Escon Module 50/5.

Maintaining balance

What makes Raptor special is the robot’s ability to maintain balance. This is achieved by means of a fast rotating rod that is driven by another EC-4pole motor. Raptor is able to jump over obstacles up to 10cm in height without stumbling. For now, the robot still depends on a support device, but the researchers are planning to develop it to the point where it is able to run independently. In the future, Raptor could be used as a surveillance or rescue robot

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Anja Schütz is with maxon.

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