Posts tagged design
Theresa Klein talks about Achilles, the first machine to move in a biologically accurate way.
“Our robot, named Achilles, is the first to walk in a biologically accurate way. That means it doesn’t just move like a person, but also sends commands to the legs like the human nervous system does.
Each leg has eight muscles—Kevlar straps attached to a motor on one end and to the plastic skeleton on the other. As the motor turns, it pulls the strap, mimicking the way our muscles contract. Some of Achilles’ muscles extend from the hip or thigh to the lower leg so they can project forces all the way down the limb. This allows us to put most of the motors in the hips and thighs. Placing them up high keeps the lower leg light, so that it can swing quickly like a human’s lower leg.
In people, neurons in the spinal column send out rhythmic signals that control our legs. It’s like a metronome, and sensory feedback from the legs alters the pace. Your brain can step in to make corrections, but it doesn’t explicitly control every muscle, which is essentially why you can walk without thinking about it. For our robot, a computer program running off an external PC controls movement in a similar way. With each step, the computer sends a signal to flex one hip muscle and extend the other. The computer changes the timing of those signals based on feedback from the legs’ load and angle sensors. A similar control system handles the lower muscles.
Modeling human movement has applications outside of robotics. It could also help us understand how people recover after spinal-cord injuries, for example. But our robot is still a very simplified model—it has no torso and can’t handle complex terrain. Initially, we also had a problem with its feet slipping. We thought about different types of rubber to give its feet more grip but eventually realized a solution already exists. Now, the robot wears a pair of Keds.”
i like the diagram, it’s so classic looking.
if it’s wearing Keds it better be wearing tube socks…
Amazing technology would allow for underground parks in NYC
If you’ve been to Manhattan in the past several years, you may have heard of the Highline in Chelsea. It’s a project that converted an abandoned above-ground railroad track into a park, and it has turned the formerly underdeveloped area around it into one of the trendiest new neighborhoods in the city; if you visit Manhattan, you have to check it out. Anyway, two architects want to build a park that will do for the Lower East Side what the Highline did for Chelsea, but with a twist: they want to build it underground!
If you’ve been to Manhattan ever, you’ll also know that space is at a premium, and there are few open spaces left to grow leafy green things or build a park. Dubbed the LowLine, the project would convert an old underground trolley car station, abandoned in 1948 and untouched since, into a 1.5 acre underground park. But how? This is where the science comes in: they’ve developed the technology to transmit sunlight underground. Using large parabolic mirrors and a fiber optic relay, sunlight from the surface would be shuttled to the park and then redisbursed, allegedly yielding enough light for photosynthesis. As shown in the artist’s renderings above, the park could house trees, grass, farmers markets, or art installations, all year round, rain or shine. The architects raised money on Kickstarter for a proof-of-concept exhibition, happening RIGHT NOW in the Essex Street Market in NYC, and they’re doing battle with the city and the transit authority that owns the underground depot for approval. Here’s to hoping the city bureaucrats see the light! *slaps knee*
this looks beautiful, but how would it smell? hopefully not like a musty, damp basement.
Either way i’d still visit.
Scientist Mohamed Babu from Mysore, India captured beautiful photos of these translucent ants eating a specially colored liquid sugar. Some of the ants would even move between the food resulting in new color combinations in their stomachs. Read more over on the Daily Mail.