The conical differential drive at the heart of Rise Robotics' linear actuator.

The conical differential drive at the heart of Rise Robotics’ linear actuator.

You’d expect this company to have been inspired by Iron Man. This team of mechanical engineers is on a mission to bring human scale robotics to the masses. “Human scale” because that’s what will physically help people. The goal of Rise Robotics is to innovate new product to bring costs down, capabilities up and to start making an important difference.

Their first product is a low cost electrical linear actuator called Cyclone Muscle. By expanding and contracting it is able to perform the function of muscle, such as the bicep in your arm. It’s driven by two electrical motors along parallel rails moving within a range of 75mm (total length between 364 to 439 mm). It can exert 80 lbs or 200 lbs of pressure, depending on the model.

Cyclone Muscle Contracted

Cyclone Muscle Contracted

What makes Cyclone Muscle effective is their patent-pending variation on an age-old technique for mechanical advantage called the Chinese windlass. A typical windlass is formed by wrapping rope around a cylinder, attaching one end to a winch and the other to a weight. By cranking the winch you can lift heavy weights efficiently. In place of cylinders Rise Robotics uses a conical differential drive to achieve the performance characteristics they’re after. Check out the description on their site.

Their ambition is to get Cyclone Muscle into robotics competitions where low-cost linear actuators can be put to good use quickly. They’ll be selling online next season to FIRST and hope to later get into the FIRST kit of parts. With adoption come the opportunities to learn and improve and expand their offering. Want in? You can preorder at www.riserobotics.com/.

What next? How about a fiberglass spring for human exoskeleton? Human scale robotics requires this to mimic and enhance human physiology. Besides, without it how will they ever achieve their goal of building Iron Man?


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Travis Good

Travis Good

Speaker. Maker. Writer. Traveler. Father. Husband.

MakerCon Co-Chair (MakerCon.com)
Maker City San Diego Roundtable Member
San Diego Maker Faire Producer (SDMakerFaire.org)


  • http://www.fablabsd.org Allen McAfee

    I love this! This might be a new favorite.

  • Ran Ma

    These guys were exhibiting in the pavilion next to us at Makerfaire San Mateo! Stopped by their booth-Super talented group! I can definitely see many uses for this technology in the Biomedical Engineering and Regenerative Medicene fields! Keep up the great work! :)

  • Guest

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    • Guest

      What about the conical shape of the cylinder? I believe that to be novel compared to whatever mining device you’re referencing. Besides, what was the function of “the mechanism” you speak of in the hauling operations of mines? Was it more cylindrical and similar to the windlass?

      More importantly, what is the intent of your comment? To bash on these inspired young engineers, or to take a stab at the patent system?

      And cool dude, Europe, great. They’ve got like great employment rates, economic stability and healthcare too, right? Nick, you’re a dick, so here’s some of your medicine.

      It’s ok to have a discussion about different perspectives on something like technology use or the patent system–what isn’t ok, is coming into a thread and trolling just because your attitude and communication style needs improvement. Let’s play nicely with others.

      Now, having said that, I’d love to hear more about your perspective. Let’s have a civil discussion.

      Why do you think this design lacks novelty?
      Why do you believe this to be prior art, and in which countries, under which governing bodies?

      • Concerned citizen

        I’ve deleted my comments responding to the guest that deleted theirs since I’d rather this be a positive and professional thread :)

  • Guest

    You’re likely referring to a capstan drive, which has been around for quite a while. Though they may look similar, they function quite differently.

    • Concerned citizen

      You guys rock!

      Can you make a robot?

      :)

    • Guest

      .

      • Guest

        Great.

        • Guest

          .

          • Guest

            Doesn’t surprise me. You come into a community of makers, creators, and dreamers, and speak harshly of patents and how our ideas are unoriginal. Unlike you, we openly share our ideas with the world, and if anybody feels like making one of our actuators on their own 3d printer, they are welcome to do so.

          • Guest

            .

          • Guest

            You are backpedaling. You never offered help. You came in claiming they didn’t have a viable patent and you insulted the US patent system as well.

            You are clearly old(er) (and none the wiser) and uncouth since you go around insulting founders like Blake.

            Needless to say, your colleagues should be ashamed of your supercilious attacks on other entrepreneurs. Try to hide behind the “I tried to help” BS, but the sequence of events clearly shows you as the aggressor.

            Blake politely asked for supporting info to your attacks, and I requested a civil discussion which you ignored. And let’s be honest, you were never inclined to invest, nor would I guess that Rise would want a person of your character or affiliation in their corner. You’re a buffoon, now go crawl back under your bridge.

          • Concerned citizen

            I disagree that your Cyclone couldn’t be used for mining. Could it be able to run a more lightweight and powerful excavating arm?

          • Guest

            If you insult first (i.e. “If [Rise Robotics] can get a patent for [the Cyclone] then the US patent system must be really broken.”), then why are you upset about responses ?

            edit: LOL, shan’t… haha… what a pretentious douche!
            edit: syntax

  • Blake Sessions

    Yeah! It can be used to make a lot of things. It fits in the mechanical framework of a muscle – so anything that you’ve seen that you could imagine to be muscle-driven is a great Cyclone app. Many earthmoving machines are linkage driven (by hydraulics) but it’s definitely within reason to consider a small electric cyclone-driven excavator.

    • Concerned citizen

      Very cool! Thx for the response ^.^