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Sensors 2011, 11(12), 11305-11334; doi:10.3390/s111211305

On the Biomimetic Design of Agile-Robot Legs

* ,
Centre for Automation and Robotics, CSIC-UPM, La Poveda 28500, Madrid, Spain
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 November 2011 / Revised: 24 November 2011 / Accepted: 24 November 2011 / Published: 28 November 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomimetic Sensors, Actuators and Integrated Systems)


The development of functional legged robots has encountered its limits in human-made actuation technology. This paper describes research on the biomimetic design of legs for agile quadrupeds. A biomimetic leg concept that extracts key principles from horse legs which are responsible for the agile and powerful locomotion of these animals is presented. The proposed biomimetic leg model defines the effective leg length, leg kinematics, limb mass distribution, actuator power, and elastic energy recovery as determinants of agile locomotion, and values for these five key elements are given. The transfer of the extracted principles to technological instantiations is analyzed in detail, considering the availability of current materials, structures and actuators. A real leg prototype has been developed following the biomimetic leg concept proposed. The actuation system is based on the hybrid use of series elasticity and magneto-rheological dampers which provides variable compliance for natural motion. From the experimental evaluation of this prototype, conclusions on the current technological barriers to achieve real functional legged robots to walk dynamically in agile locomotion are presented.
Keywords: legged robots; agile quadrupeds; biomimetic design; new actuators for robots legged robots; agile quadrupeds; biomimetic design; new actuators for robots
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Garcia, E.; Arevalo, J.C.; Muñoz, G.; Gonzalez-de-Santos, P. On the Biomimetic Design of Agile-Robot Legs. Sensors 2011, 11, 11305-11334.

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