Posted On Friday, August 03, 2012 at 08:37:19 AM
Researchers have created a robot that can perfectly replicate back stroke swimming. The team at the Tokyo University of Technology, led by the associate professor Motomu Nakashima, hopes that eventually robots like the ‘Swumanoid’ can act as robot lifeguards, patrolling the shores and helping swimmers in distress.
• A researcher does some adjustments to the Swumanoid robot Right: The robot does swimming tests in a water tank located in the lab
The scientists are also hoping to use Swumanoid in their research into swimming. “In research on swimming, one problem is, it's hard to know how much propulsive force the hands create during a stroke.
There have been attempts to measure such things using actual swimmers, but it’s hard to attach sensors to the hands of an actual swimmer. Also, a person can't repeat exactly the same movement many times,” said Nakashima.
But Swumanoid can do this well, thereby helping researchers measure various elements like the force required to propel swimmers through the water. The researchers created Swumanoid by using a 3D scanner so that it perfectly maps a human swimmer’s physique.
“When a swimmer moves, the motion of the shoulders is quite large. Ordinary humanoid robots aren’t designed for such large motions, so to replicate the big movements in acrawl stroke, we’ve installed special joints in the shoulders of Swumanoid,” said Motomu Nakashima in a YouTube video.
These measurements were later used to create the robot, with 20 waterproof, computer- controlled motors providing the perfect swimming motion. The robot can currently swim the backstroke and the front crawl, but it will need a new pair of legs before he can master the breaststroke.
“Swumanoid can already do the butterfly and backstroke. The breaststroke involves a different leg motion, so it can’t be done with the robot’s current legs.
But we are developing legs to enable Swumanoid to do the breaststroke,” Nakashima added. However, with a pace of six metres per second, Swumanoid swims at just a third of the fast human world record. “Currently, the robot doesn’t always swim as it’s instructed. So we’d like to enable it to swim freely.“
“Humanoid robots can already walk and run, but if we have a robot that truly swims, it could be used not just for sports research, but also for rescuing people in the water,” Nakashima concluded in the Internet video.