Fall 1998/Spring 1999 Project
(ADSL) Advanced Digital Systems Lab
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Type: Walking Air Muscle Robot
Weight: ?? lbs
Body: Aluminum Frame
Power: 40-70 psig air supply
Control: M68332 Circuit
Speed: unknown
Weapons: Battle Spikes

Year: 1998,1999

The air muscle octopod is an eight legged autonomous robot using the McKibben air muscle to control leg movement. Two pairs of muscles per leg will control vertical and lateral movement. This will provide the necessary agility for the robot to walk.
This robot was sponsored by the Advanced Digital Systems Laboratory in the Electrical Engineering Department of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. ADSL is under the direction of Prof. Ricardo Uribe.

This robot uses McKibennen air muscles that have been purchased from a British company called Shadow Robot Company. The air muscles are seen in the figure below:

They are made of inner rubber tube covered by a braid.

When the inner tube is filled with air it expands and so does the braid. As the braid and tube expand the ends of the "muscle" contract like a real muscle and an actuation motion has been achieved.

In addition to these purchased muscles we have also attempted to build our own with some degree of success. There are over 16 valves inside the octopod's body which are used to direct air at ~70 psig to various muscles. The control of these valves is done using a Motorola 68332 microcontroller. A simple assembly language code has been written to enable the robot to walk in a forward direction. A more detailed description of the entire project, as well as instructions on manufacturing the muscles is provided in the Microsoft document below. There is also a set of photographs of the octopod ( called Stiffy ) in addition to Unigraphics drawings made by Aaron Trask.

Click pictures on side

The control system for the Stiffy robot was all written in M68332 assembly and is included below as well as the ADSL Paper on the robot: