Contact M. Wisse

Personal robot

"Agile robots" 

Martijn Wisse, Associate Professor

A 'personal' robot for every household. This is the dream of Martijn Wisse of the Biorobotica laboratory. He is not thinking of ponderous and energy-wasting behemoths, but of robots that can move fluidly and efficiently and are perfectly capable of handling any manner of objects.

Wisse has worked on robots for years. He gained fame with the robot named Denise. This two-legged robot, with a plastic bucket for a head, two slim aluminium legs and a minimum amount of control systems, can walk with the dynamism of a human. This strongly distinguishes Denise from the complex and expensive robots produced in countries like Japan, which are based on complete control of all movements. Because of this control these robots move statically and unnaturally.

Understanding the fundamental principles
"I am fascinated by the locomotor apparatus of humans," explains Wisse, "and I try to copy it in my robots. I am convinced that this method of moving is highly energetically efficient. If you wish to copy human movement, you will need to understand the fundamental principles of this movement. This is not my specialism, however I am lucky to have colleagues in the Biomedical Engineering department who are studying the human locomotor apparatus very closely indeed."

Raw egg
Wisse continues: "I apply the knowledge they develop to my robots. For example, together with a colleague I built a robot hand that can pick up all sorts of objects, even fragile things like a raw egg or a Christmas tree ornament or oddly shaped objects. We profited from the insights that have been gained on the complex movements of human hands. This lead to a robot hand that is driven by only a single motor and has tendons in the fingers, just like our hands."

"Whether I'm building a walking robot or a robot hand, I concentrate on the main goal first. Once I've achieved this goal I look at what extras are required. The main goal with Denise was efficient walking. When she could do that I looked at which modules I could use to prevent her falling over on an uneven surface. By staying with this approach, I hope to eventually build robots that can help us with all kinds of tasks in and around the house."



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