Sunday, June 20, 2021
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RoMeLa’s BALLU Stands Tall – All The Time

ballu-robot-dancingThe Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory, RoMeLa, at UCLA, recently shared a video on YouTube of BALLU, a Buoyancy Assisted Lightweight Legged Unit that takes an interesting approach to a problem common to many bi-pedal bots, staying upright. BALLU solves this problem so well, it’s actually incapable of falling down. This robot’s secret is a balloon-like body, filled with helium. Sitting atop a pair of lightweight legs with the heavy electronics housed in the feet, BALLU’s buoyant body remains upright while walking, dancing, falling from a great height or traveling up or down stairs. BALLU is even capable of walking on water. Since BALLU weighs very little, it poses little danger to any humans with which it might interact, unlike many heavier systems. BALLU is delightful to watch and the possibilities this solution presents are fascinating to consider. Here are some of BALLU’s details as described by RoMeLa:

“All actuation, communication, and power components are built into the feet which make up the majority of the robots mass. The prototype shown in the video is a biped with two degrees of freedom. Only the knees are actuated (cable driven from the feet). Yet, with only one degree of freedom per leg, the robot can walk forwards, walk backwards, step sideways, turn, hop, and perform other types of motion. This is achieved with correct timing of the actuation of each knee along with careful consideration for momentum, drag, joint velocity, joint friction, and joint elasticity. For this early prototype, the actuation of the knees are triggered manually via wireless remote control (straight walking via software control).”

Watch the video below