Researchers at IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia presented at ICRA 2019 - the International Conference on Robotics and Automation held in Montreal (Canada), the most recent results about the new version of the hydraulic quadruped robot HyQ, HyQReal. They completed the design, assembly and testing of HyQReal, which has demonstrated that it is capable of pulling an airplane of 3300kg weight for more than 10 meters. The HyQReal robot is developed to support humans in emergency scenarios.
HyQReal is 1,33 m long and 90 cm tall, and its weight is 130kg considering hydraulics and batteries onboard. The robot is protected by an aluminium roll cage and a skin made of Kevlar, glass fiber and plastic. The robot has custom-made feet made in special rubber for high traction on the ground. The robot is equipped with a 48 Volt battery which power 4 electric motors connected to 4 hydraulic pumps. The robot has 2 computers on board: one dedicate to vision and one to its control.
The new features have been tested in Genova Airport, in Genoa (Italy), with the support of Piaggio Aerospace, demonstrating the power of HyQReal by pulling a small passenger airplane (Piaggio P180 Avanti), 3300kg weight, 14.4m long, with a wingspan of 14m.
The new robot is the lastest version of the HyQ robot series - hydraulically powered quadruped robots developed by researchers at the IIT since 2007. The long-term goal of the project is to create the hardware, software and algorithms for robust quadruped vehicles for rough terrain that can be tailored to a variety of applications, such as disaster response, agriculture, decommissioning, and inspection. Compared to the previous versions, HyQReal is completely power-autonomous with onboard hydraulics, batteries and wireless communication. Furthermore, the robot features a higher ruggedness, reliability and energy efficiency.
"Pulling a plane allowed us to demonstrate the robot's strength, power-autonomy and the optimized design. We wanted to achieve something that has never been done before, and we succeeded last week" commented Claudio Semini, project leader at IIT's Dynamic Legged Systems lab.
The new robot is the main output of the first years of joint lab activities between IIT and Moog, which have been inaugurated in September 2016, with the goal to develop the next generation of hydraulic legged robots. The joint lab combines IIT's know-how in the design of the hardware and software of legged robots, with Moog's expertise in miniature, high-performance actuation solutions.
Moog Inc. is a worldwide designer, manufacturer, and integrator of precision control components and systems. For HyQReal, Moog has developed most of the hydraulic actuation system, including hydraulic pump units, smart manifolds, fluid rotary unions and Integrated Servo Actuators (ISA). Moog has specifically developed components for HyQReal that will find an application in the mobile robot market where energy efficiency and high performance are important.
IIT has led the overall development of the robot's hardware and software. In terms of hardware, IIT focused on the design of the torso, legs, electronics, hydraulic hoses, fall protections, and sensing. Additionally, it coordinated the integration of the actuation subsystems developed by Moog. In terms of Software, IIT adapted its locomotion control framework that it has developed over the last decade. "Thanks to IIT and Moog's complementary expertise, we managed to enhance our control software with increased safety and modularity." said Victor Barasuol, the IIT researcher who is in charge of HyQReal's control.
The HyQReal team at IIT is composed of 14 people, coming from Italy, Switzerland, Brazil, UK, Canada, Egypt, the Netherlands, and Mexico. The development of HyQReal was funded by the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia and Moog Inc. with the support of INAIL - the Italian National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work and the European Union under the framework of project ECHORD++.