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

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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