16 Jun - 2017
How often do you get to see a large town-centre square packed with hopping robots? Well, you will have the opportunity to do exactly that on Markt square in Delft, on Wednesday 21 June, during the annual Design Competition for first-year Bachelor’s students of Mechanical Engineering. Who will make the best robohopper?
Hundreds of students
More than 70 teams and hundreds of students are taking part in this year’s annual Design Competition for first-year Bachelor’s students of Mechanical Engineering at TU Delft. The competition forms part of the regular curriculum, and is an important exercise in collaboration and design for first-year Bachelor’s students. Some notable assignments have been carried out in the past, such as the mechanical baseball pitcher, the robowaiter, and the penalty-kick machine.
This time, the theme is jumping robots. And it will be the first time that the competition is being held entirely away from the TU Delft campus. We often see robots moving on wheels, but walking robots are not unknown either. Some robots use advanced walking mechanisms, of which the ‘Strandbeesten’ by artist Theo Jansen are an example. Jumping robots, however, are relatively new, even to scientists. In due course, ‘jumpers’ could be of assistance – in the wake of a disaster for example, especially in areas that are difficult to access.
Learning from nature
One of the starting points of the competition is learning from nature, as inspiration for new technical solutions. This bio-inspired design has already led to many innovative solutions. Many animals make jumping movements, especially when moving quickly; examples include dogs running after a ball, or predators jumping on their prey.
The challenge for the students is therefore to design a robot able to move as quickly as possible using repeated jumping movements. In addition, the ‘robohopper’ has to be able to come to a standstill after jumping (once or several times) without falling over and be ready to continue jumping.
The robohopper also has to meet a number of design requirements. For example, it has to fit into a removal box (when disassembled if necessary) and be operational within ten minutes of being unpacked.
The teams also have the choice of two sources of energy – compressed air or electricity, and for three different competition elements. The first option is Free Jumping. This concerns moving as quickly as possible in a straight line using a repeated jumping motion (without assistance).
The second category is the Distance Jump – jumping as far as possible and landing in the starting position without falling over. Finally, there is Assisted Jumping. This involves moving as quickly as possible in a circular path using a repeated jumping motion (in a type of mill).
Web page including videos about the assignment and the progress being made.