When faced with the decision of what to make for their final bachelor project at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg Sweden, these students opted for an interesting design. They knew they wanted to make a walking robot, but found most designs overly complicated. TARS, the fictional obelisk like robot from the movie Interstellar came to mind and they decided to give it a go.
They weren’t intent on making all the transforming and conversational abilities of the bot, but rather to recreate the tripod like gait and have a real, walking, TARS model in the end. They started with a simulation.
The robot works by that the outer blocks of the robot are connected to inner blocks with a crank shaft who can both lift the block and rotate them. We did a simulation in SimMechanics of the robot which show how the mechanism work
As you can see, they managed to pull it off!
The toughest part of constructing the robot was making the ball bearing mount for the crank shaft since they had to be quite exact, basically we had to lathe an aluminium cylinder which we got a lot of help with. Otherwise it was quite straightforward to build it since we designed it to be quite simple. I do not know if this is relevant for your readers but actually the most difficult part of the project was to design a control system with feedback for the robots stability. We only managed to simulate the control system in Simulink, but did not have time to implement it. That is why the robot is a bit wobbly, but it can still walk without a control system.
While the project turned out fantastically, there is always something that you learn, that you would then improve if you were to recreate it.
What we would do differently is to use stepper motors instead of dc motors so we can more precisely control the motor position without using a control system with feedback. Also we would like to implement our control system to see if it can walk better.