Hubo II, a new humanoid robot !

Hubo II has been developed by Professor Jun Ho Oh and his colleagues at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology’s Humanoid Robot Research Center, aka Hubo Lab. The original Hubo , built in 2004, was one of the first advanced full-body humanoid robots developed outside Japan. Hubo II is lighter and faster than its older brother, weighing 45 kilograms, or a third less, and capable of walking two times faster.

A major improvement over early humanoid designs is Hubo II’s gait. Most humanoid robots walk with their knees bent, which is dynamically more stable but not natural compared to human walking. Hubo II performs straight leg walking. It consumes less energy and allows for faster walking. The robot has more than 40 motors and dozens of sensors, cameras, and controllers. It carries a lithium polymer battery with a 480 watt-hour capacity, which keeps the robot running up 2 hours with movement and up to 7 hours without movement.

Another improvement is the hand design. It weighs only 380 grams and has five motors and a torque sensor. It can handle any object that fits on its palm, and its wrist can rotate in a humanlike way. In humanoid robot projects, the main challenge is not just cramming all the hardware into a tight space, but also making sure everything works together. Cables can unexpectedly restrict joint movements; power and control boards interfere with each other; modules end up too heavy and create instability. Professor Oh wants to make a robust design to avoid such catastrophic failures. He believes Hubo II is a big step in that direction.

source: this website

A new micromotors technology

Piezoelectric motors have been developed in the last years by many enterprises. This new technology is very interesting since it offers high forces and precision with miniature dimensions.

To have an idea, let’s consider SQUIGGLE micromotors developed by Newscale Technologies. Both linear and rotary micromotors are able to produce up to 5 N forces while being smaller than a coin. Despite their tiny dimensions (1.8 x 1.8 x 6 mm), these devices can be controlled with nanometer precision and are very robust.

As reported on the aforementioned website, “piezoelectric actuators change shape when electrically excited. A SQUIGGLE motor consists of several piezoelectric ceramic actuators attached to a threaded nut, with a mating threaded screw inside. Applying power to the actuators creates ultrasonic vibrations, causing the nut to vibrate in an orbit“.

The field of application of such micromotors is huge and it becomes especially interesting in the case of biomedical devices 😉