The figure shows the LEMUR II—the second generation of the Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot (LEMUR), which was described in "Six-Legged Ex- perimental Robot " (NPO-20897), NASA Tech Briefs,Vol.25, No.12 (December 2001), page 58. The LEMUR II incorporates a number of improvements, including new features, that extend its capabilities beyond those of its predecessor, which is now denoted the LEMUR I.

ImageTo recapitulate:the LEMUR I was a six limbed robot for demonstrating robotic capabilities for assembly, maintenance, and inspection. The LEMUR I was designed to be capable of walking autonomously along a truss structure toward a mechanical assembly at a prescribed location and to perform other operations. The LEMUR I was equipped with stereoscopic video cameras and image-data-processing circuitry for navigation and mechanical operations. It was also equipped with a wireless modem, through which it could be commanded remotely. Upon arrival at a mechanical assembly, the LEMUR I would perform simple mechanical operations with one or both of its front limbs. It could also transmit images to a host computer.

Each of the six limbs of the LEMUR I was operated independently. Each of the four rear limbs had three degrees of freedom (DOFs), while each of the front two limbs had four DOFs. The front two limbs were designed to hold, operate, and/or be integrated with tools. The LEMUR I included an onboard computer equipped with an assortment of digital control circuits, digital input/output circuits, analog-to-digital converters for input,and digital-to-analog (D/A) converters for output.Feedback from optical encoders in the limb actuators was utilized for closed-loop microcomputer control of the positions and velocities of the actuators. The LEMUR II incorporates the following improvements over the LEMUR I:

  • The drive trains for the joints of the LEMUR II are more sophisticated, providing greater torque and accuracy.
  • The six limbs are arranged symmetrically about a hexagonal body platform instead of in straight lines along the sides. This symmetrical arrangement is more conducive to omnidirectional movement in a plane.
  • The number of degrees of freedom of each of the rear four limbs has been increased by one. Now,every limb has four degrees of freedom: three at the hip (or shoulder,depending on one 's perspective)and one at the knee (or elbow, depending on one 's perspective).
  • Now every limb (instead of only the two front limbs)can perform operations. For this purpose, each limb is tipped with an improved quick-release mechanism for swapping of end-effector tools.
  • New end-effector tools have been developed. These include an instrumented rotary driver that accepts all tool bits that have 0.125-in.(3.175-mm)-diameter shanks, a charge-coupled-device video camera, a super bright light-emitting diode for illuminating the work area of the robot, and a generic collet tool that can be quickly and inexpensively modified to accept any cylindrical object up to 0.5 in.(12.7 mm) in diameter.
  • The stereoscopic cameras are mounted on a carriage that moves along a circular track, thereby providing for omnidirectional machine vision.
  • The control software has been augmented with software that implements innovations reported in two prior NASA Tech Briefs articles:the HIPS algorithm ["Hybrid Image-Plane/Stereo Manipulation" (NPO-30492), Vol.28, No.7 (July 2004), page 55] and the CAMPOUT architecture ["An Architecture for Controlling Multiple Robots" (NPO-30345), Vol. 28, No.10 (October 2004), page 65].

This work was done by Brett Kennedy, Avi Okon, Hrand Aghazarian, Matthew Robinson, Michael Garrett, and Lee Magnone of Caltech for NASA 's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Machinery/Automation category. NPO-35140