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Hopping Robot
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Features May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2
   

Hopping Robot

 
     

Adding a little hip to its hop, Professor Thomas Bewley and his fellow inventors in the UCSD Coordinated Robotics Lab are teaching iHop, a hopping, sheltie-sized three-wheeled rover, to perform increasingly amazing tricks. iHop maneuvers on wheels like other robots, but can also balance on a toe, jump and twist in mid-air. The robot’s MEMS gyroscopes and accelerometers feed sophisticated on-board attitude estimation and stabilization algorithms in its brain. Unique combinations of motions and situational awareness are made possible by a patented spring-loaded hopping mechanism, gyroscopic wheels and sophisticated software.


“Most people are captivated by iHop’s playful demeanor,” says Bewley. “However, its mechanical simplicity, efficiency and maneuverability make it an appealing candidate for search-and-rescue, defense and homeland security applications.”

Bewley used funding from the UCSD-Los Alamos National Laboratory Engineering Institute to initially develop iHop, and the project was awarded a commercialization grant by the Jacobs School’s William J. von Liebig Center in May 2007. This will be used to develop the mechanical components and control algorithms that will enable iHop to efficiently perform even more pet-like tricks, such as hopping up and down stairs.

No word yet on whether the robot will bark.

Contributors to Making Waves: Mario Aguilera, '89, Rex Graham, Raymond Hardie, Robert Monroe, Neda Oreizy, '08, Doug Ramsey

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