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Compared to other teams in China and the U.S. we have focused a lot on the versatility. So this (HyQ) platform can do many different motions ranging from very fast motions like a run or a jump. But it can also do the more careful navigation on rough terrain where we need to plan really one foothold after the next. And this is important, once we see the 3D map of the environment we can start to understand how to best move through that environment, we don't want to be the fastest or the best climber, but we want to have a machine that can do many of these motions; as in the real world, the machine will need to have many different skills.
If we have a moving mass in front, that creates also a disturbance in the legs. So what we're developing is algorithms that can take into account that external disturbance from the payload or from the arm. And then servo the legs, control the legs in a way to compensate for these disturbances. And we've managed to do this very well; there's an example where we moved the arm left and right relatively fast, and if we don't use the smart controller the robot moves a lot. But if we turn on the smart controller, the torque and forces in the cylinders and joints are optimized so that the robot is relatively firm and rejects all these external disturbances.
For us, it was natural to start to design also an arm, and then the plan is to build two arms and have them both on the robot to create a 'centaur' style of robot. And with the two arms the robot can be deployed to the real area where it needs to do any maintenance work or turn a valve in a rescue scenario or pick up a sample in a contaminated area or just clean up radioactive materials; there's a lot of potential future applications where manipulation is really important.
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