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The Falling Cat Project

The Falling Cat Project: Building a Robot that Lands on Its Feet

      Cats are remarkably agile, and when dropped upside-down, they often land on their feet. More specifically, they are able to roll right-side-up in mid-air without any net angular momentum (without pushing off the person/mechanism that drops it). Likewise, when we drop our robotic cat from an upside-down position, we'd like it to land on its feet too.

      Our team members include:
      Elena Glassman, Alec Shkolnik, Fumiya Iida, Russ Tedrake, and Steve Proulx

    A Cat Caught in the Act

    Reprinted by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd: Nature 430, 731-732(12 August 2004) | doi:10.1038/430731a; Published online 11 August 2004, copyright 2004

     

     

    The Best Prototype (No. 2) in Action


    Fumiya performing the first drop tests
    We will use a high-speed camera in the future; for easiest viewing, drag the moving cursor below the video in order to manually increment between consecutive images.
    High Speed Video Footage
    Link to the avi file of the high speed video (125 frames/sec). Viewing suggestion: in your video viewer, step through frame by frame. Note: it is possible to do this in the most recent version of the Windows Media Player, within the Play Speed Settings panel, accessible by clicking on the button beneath the Now Playing tab and then selecting Play Speed Settings within the Enhancements menu.

     

     

    Portraits of our Robotic Cat Prototypes

    Prototype No. 1
    Designed and built by Steve Proulx
    Length: 15 in.; Height: 10 in.

    Designed for "planar skating", which translates into adjusting its own pitch in mid-air. It has only two actuated joints; both are revolute. They join the front and back sets of legs to the torso. The front set of legs do not move independently. The back legs have the same constraint. Shown without its SV203B hobby servo controller and Lithium-polymer battery, both of which are smaller than decks of cards.
    Prototype No. 2
    Designed and built by Fumiya Iida and Elena Glassman
    Length: 21 in.; Height: 5 in.

    Designed for rolling in mid-air.
    This is the robot demonstrated in the video above. Its only joint is a fully actuated universal joint in the center of the torso.
    Prototype No. 3
    Designed and built by Fumiya Iida and Elena Glassman
    Length: 10 in.; Height: 4 in.

    Also designed for rolling in mid-air.
    It is a miniature version of prototype no. 2. Like prototype no. 1, it is shown here without its SV203B hobby servo controller and Lithium-polymer battery, which would be mounted on either side of the actuated universal joint.

     

     

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