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Title: The mechanics and energy economy of animal jumping and landing applied to autonomous robots
Author: Paskins, Keith Edward
Awarding Body: University of Bath
Current Institution: University of Bath
Date of Award: 2007
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Irregular terrain is difficult for small robots to traverse, so the research in this thesis endeavours to develop a jumping robot as a solution to this problem. Gliding is proposed as a means of reducing the landing impact forces, and potentially extending the range of each jump. The biomechanics of jumping and gliding are introduced from fundamental principles, before various examples from nature are described and contrasted. Flying squirrels glide quickly between trees by stretching out their patagia, membranous skin folds spreading between the wrists and ankles. Several hypotheses exist to explain the evolution of gliding flight in these animals. These are investigated by filming northern flying squirrels leaping across a range of short distances while measuring the corresponding take-off and landing forces. Evidence is provided that the evolution of controlled flight was most likely stimulated by the need to reduce landing impact forces. A model is proposed for the skin structure of flying squirrel patagia, which is likely to be specialised from normal mammalian skin to facilitate gliding flight and the high speed transition to other arboreal locomotion. This predicts that the skin would be thin and its stiffness highest along the length of the animal, with the behaviour more elastic perpendicularly. Uni-axial tensile test results from a single southern flying squirrel are consistent with the hypotheses. A biomimetic jumping and gliding robot, Glumper, is described which relies on a power-amplifying energy storage and catchrelease mechanism. A novel, bi-stable dog clutch device was developed that enables the robot to launch itself automatically using an on-board power supply. The robot has selfdeploying gliding membranes and allowance is made in the design for the adjustment of pitch to improve landing control. After testing the performance of the robot, consideration is given to its power requirement for full autonomy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available