'Inception Drive' - Reversible, Infinitely Variable Transmission for Energy-Efficient Robots

Robotics engineers at SRI International have developed an ultra-compact infinitely variable transmission, based on a novel nested pulley configuration, that's designed to make robots safer and vastly more efficient. Unlike more common continuously variable transmissions, this transmission can reverse the direction of the output relative to the input without clutches or extra stages, affording new opportunities for energy savings or power bursts. SRI's 'Inception Drive' is small enough to replace fixed-ratio transmissions in robots, where it could potentially cut energy consumption in half. The technology was introduced at the 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) .