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Hexapod Robot Control System for Biomechanics Testing
(Commenced: 01-Jun-2008,Concluded: 12-Dec-2010)
Hexapod Robots (or Stewart Platforms) are used in many applications where precise six degree of freedom (6 DOF) position and motion control are required. A few of the industries using this design include aerospace, automotive, nautical, and machine tool technology. Hexapod Robots have been used to simulate flight, model a lunar rover, build bridges, aid in vehicle maintenance, design crane hoist mechanisms, position satellite communication dishes and telescopes, among other tasks.
A novel design of a Hexapod Robot is underway at the School of Computer Science, Engineering & Mathematics, Flinders University and the School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Adelaide, to enable complex 6 DOF testing of bones, joints, soft tissues, artificial joints and other medical/surgical devices. The project is being funded by funds awarded to Dr Costi from Foundation Daw Park, Repatriation General Hospital, The Health and Medical Research Fund, Department of Health, SA Government, and jointly by the School of Computer Science, Engineering & Mathematics and the Faculty of Science & Engineering, Flinders University. The University of Adelaide is providing in-kind support, primarily in the design of the controller and human-machine-interface. The current hexapod is based heavily on the very successful Hexapod developed at the UVM by Ian Stokes et al..
The system is comprised of the following:
Currently the mechanical design is being finalised to minimise compliance. A control system to operate the Hexapod Robot in six degrees of freedom under closed-loop position or load control is being developed. Successful dual-loop control has been achieved for each of the leg, and the global controller for the kinematics and trajectory generation is well underway. A user-friendly GUI to allow input of required testing parameters and logging of data is also underway.
The following YouTube video shows testing on the platform.
In 2012 the project was awarded the Malcolm Kinnard Engineering Excellence Award (SA's highest engineering award) as well as the Innovation / Research & Development Engineering Excellence Award by the SA division of the Engineers Australia. Furthermore is was a finalist in the Engineers Australia national Engineering Excellence awards.