Monday, September 25, 2017
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Bridging the Gap Between Simulation and Real-World Performance

Researchers at the University of Oslo test the performance of their 3D printed robots against simulation data. Video courtesy of the University of Oslo.
Researchers at the University of Oslo test the performance of their 3D printed robots against simulation data. Video courtesy of the University of Oslo.

Researchers at the University of Oslo are working with a diverse group of 3D printed robots to improve their ability to traverse different kinds of terrain.

“We tell the simulation program what we would like the robot to do, how fast it should walk, its size and energy consumption. For instance, we may want the robot to be able to turn around and change direction, climb over boulders and walk on rugged ground,” says associate professor Kyrre Glette of Oslo University’s Department of Informatics.

Five robots are currently being tested by the team.  Three robots have four legs, one has three legs, and one robot has six legs. All but one of the bots have legs with two joints. Each design did equally well in simulated maneuvers, where they were able to navigate the terrain. In reality, however, the robots only performed half as well as they do in the computer simulations.

With practice, the researchers say the robots’ performance can be improved by 20 to 40 percent. The team hopes that eventually, the robots can do just as well as predicted in initial simulations by taking stock of the robots’ performance and making changes. Ultimately, this could lead to insights on how robots can adapt to a changing environment and on how simulation software might be improved.

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