BEST Robotics – The ULTRA Spine Quadruped

ULTRA Spine Quadruped Standing 2016-04-26
First version of the Underactuated Lightweight Tensegrity Robotic Assistive Spine (ULTRA Spine) Quadruped Robot, Spring 2016.

The Berkeley Emergent Space Tensegritites Lab is researching flexible tensegrity spines for walking robots. Robots with flexible spines have many potential advantages over those with rigid body structures. Motion between a robot’s hips and shoulders could allow for more complex and efficient locomotion for quadrupeds, as well as greater ability to traverse unknown terrain and interact with unknown environments while keeping stable and safe. This project, the Underactuated Lightweight Tensegrity Robotic Assistive Spine (ULTRA Spine), seeks to create such a quadruped backbone.

We have an initial ULTRA Spine prototype that demonstrates motion in the spine:

Our team has also been working on simulations and control systems for the spine, including inverse kinematics for mechanism design and model-predictive control for real-time motion control.

ULTRA Spine Model-Predictive Control for bending, along the x-axis
ULTRA SPine mpc bending inward rotation 2016-03-06
ULTRA Spine Model-Predictive Control for bending, along the y-axis
ULTRA Spine Team Picture 2016-04-27
Many thanks to the 2015-2016 ULTRA Spine team! From left to right: Jorge Vizcayno, Ankita Joshi, Zeerek Ahmad, Drew Sabelhaus, Lara Janse van Vuuren, Abishek Akella, and Heeyeon Kwon.

Contact Drew Sabelhaus for more information: apsabelhaus at berkeley dot edu.

Featured image of 2017 capstone team members, mentors and NASA scientists: Alice Agogino (faculty mentor), Drew Sabelhaus (doctoral student mentor), Lara Janse van Vuuren (MEng student), Huajing (Shirley) Zhao (MEng student), Asher Saghian(MEng student), Shu Jun Tan(MEng student), Robel Tweeldebirhan (MEng student), Jonathan Bruce (NASA Ames roboticist) and Adrian K. Agogino (NASA Ames roboticist). This team won the 2017 Fung Institute Mission Award.

Named after the first dog in space, Laika, the 2017 ULTRA Spine is featured in this Fung Institute video.