This project's funding goal was not reached on June 7, 2014.
About this project
A lot of you asked for a video of OutRunner going OffRoad, here you go, nothing can stop it! (gravel, grass, up and down hills...)
OutRunner is the world's first legged running robot that is commercially available to the public. That's right—a running robot! OutRunner is eating up the competition with amazing capabilities: self-balancing, running up to 20 mph on almost any types of terrains (grass, asphalt, dirt...) with up to 2 hours of battery life, extremely simple to operate and upgradable. There is simply no other robot with such capabilities and so easy and fun to play with. All you need to do is just press the accelerator and steer it wherever you want it to go; it's that easy. Let the fun begin!
OutRunner comes in two versions: Core and Performance. OutRunner Core is the version you need If you just want to play around with the robot and have fun. OutRunner Performance is a much more powerful version packed with state-of-the-art sensors that will turn any race against your friends into something totally epic !
Robotics Unlimited is a spinoff of the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) where a team of scientists and engineers have been working for years toward the development of walking and running robots. Part of the IHMC robotics team has been spending their time figuring out how to make a robotic system capable of running while maintaining stability. While research robots are very expensive machines dedicated to lab experiments, Robotics Unlimited's founder wanted to have a robot easy to operate, relatively low cost to build but still providing amazing running capability. After several months of thinking, testing and prototyping, OutRunner was born.
Why are robots doing great things only in movies? Why is it that the only people enjoying robots right now are scientists or engineers? At Robotics Unlimited, we are tired of these trends and are on a journey to change this status-quo. We believe that robots should be a part of everybody's life and that they should be easy and fun to interact with while still doing amazing things. OutRunner is here to prove that to you.
OutRunner in the News
How does it work
Well, as you will see in our video, OutRunner robots are biologically-inspired; they emulate the behavior of legged animals by reproducing their step pattern and having a similar mass / length distribution. By having a center of mass lower than the leg axis of rotation, OutRunner robots exploit a buoyancy effect, making them inherently stable and eliminating the need for expensive sensors and complex control algorithms. Energy efficiency is achieved by exploiting the same feature observed in legged animals; using legs as an energy storage system allows for fluctuation and conservation (and not losses) of potential and kinetic energy during running. Because of this energy storage mechanism, OutRunner is able to run for 2h whereas a RC car with the same battery will run only for 20 min max. Steering is achieved by shifting the center of mass of the robot, forcing it to lean to one side, which in result induces a turn (similarly to what happens on a bicycle). These are the basic concepts behind the OutRunner robot; and even if there is much more going on, the robot takes care of it for you so that the only thing you have to worry about is to have fun with it!
OutRunner running on grass
Few people asked us if OutRunner was capable of running on grass, he sure does. Below is a raw video of one of our first test of the robot on grass, Enjoy !
6 Legs Vs 4 Legs
Just to prove you how stable OutRunner is, we got the robot running with only 4 legs !
If you just want to play around with the robot and have fun, this is the version you need. The core version is able to run up to 10 mph and has an battery life of 1 hour. It is controlled via a standard remote control. The robot has 6 legs and is equipped with a Universal Camera Mount (camera not included, 1/4" thread). If you want to have more sensors but don't have the budget yet for the Performance version, no worries, we will offer sensor upgrades that will allow you to get more out of your OutRunner Core. This version is about 1.5 foot tall and weighs a little bit less than 3 pounds.
Coming in several designs and equipped with a powerful out-runner brushless motor, the Performance version is the model you need to race your friend. It is able to run up to 20 mph and is equipped with a state-of-the-art battery that provides up to 2 hours of fun. The robot comes with 12 legs and will be able to run with 6, 8, 10 or 12 legs - your choice. It is controllable via a remote or via your smartphone. Sensor-wise, the Performance version is equipped with a 6 degrees of freedom Inertial Measurement Unit (Accelerometer and Gyroscope) and a onboard High Definition camera (720p, 30fps). The robot also has a Universal Camera Mount (camera not included ,1/4" thread). Sensor data and video are live streamed on your smartphone via WiFi. One of the best things about the Performance version is that we will offer hardware and software upgrades to push further the performance of your robot. The robot is slightly taller than 2 feet and weighs about 5 pounds.
We are working on great designs to customize your robot. By pledging any amount, you will be able to submit or vote for your favorite designs. The top ten designs will make it to the production stage, and you'll be able to pick up the one you want for your robot.
As a part of our plan to make the OutRunner even more enjoyable, we are planning to release several upgrades for the Core and Performance versions that will allow you to customize your robot. These upgrades will be available through our website immediately after the shipment of the OutRunners. All upgrades will be plug and play, which means that you will be able to install them yourself. You will be able to upgrade the core version with more sensors and the performance version with new hardware. Since it is taking a lot of time and effort to design, manufacture, and ensure the quality of new components, upgrade availability for the performance version will be based on how much support we receive during the KickStarter campaign (see stretching goals section for a detailed list). Additionally, for those of you who want to go deeper in the customization process, we will offer a software upgrade that will allow you to tune the parameters of the controllers and motor drivers similarly to the way that you can tune a car engine.
What will be the most exciting and the most rewarding thing for a company like us? Well, it's fairly simple—obviously, we want to see people have fun with our products; but deeper, what's really motivating us is to create a community of robotics enthusiasts that breathe and share the same passion. For a long time, the founder of Robotics Unlimited had something in mind to this end: organizing the world's first competition of running robots. We will try to set up this event by the end of 2015 or closely after. This time frame will give roughly 6 months to anybody who purchased an OutRunner to prepare for what we call "The Robot Race." Our initial plan is to organize the competition around three races: a drag race, an endurance race, and a slalom race. With this event, we really hope to foster the love of robotics and look forward to seeing a huge diversity of participants (hobbyists, researchers, students, etc.). This will also be the perfect occasion to compare robots and share our discoveries. Of course, to make things even more fun, we will allow modification to the OutRunners. But keep in mind that even the best robot is nothing without a good pilot! So who's going to be the best robot pilot? It may be you, who knows...
How we will use you support
Developing and testing a robot is a timely and cost-intensive process. Our initial research work brought us to the alpha stage of development. We proved that the science worked, which is the biggest risk in a project like this. Since our first prototype, we have come a long way. We have identified potential failure modes and have fine-tuned the remote control resolution; we have performed hundreds of tests and after many prototypes, are really confident in the capacities and robustness of our robots. We are few steps away from bringing this robot to you, and this is where we need you. Your support will help us to achieve the following goals:
- Finalize the OutRunner design. We want to make it more appealing and look really cool and have the robot start by itself. So far, we have been using a launcher to give the robot an initial velocity to start with. We have several ways to do so and are currently investigating which way makes more sense for a consumer product.
- Develop the smartphone control app. That is an easy task, and development will be fairly straightforward.
- Set up and organize our manufacturing. Currently, we are proud to be designing and manufacturing the OutRunner in the United States and hope to keep it this way. We have already identified some manufacturers to help us ramp up our production and deliver to you this amazing robot!
- $150,000: This is the minimum amount that we need to keep going; as said earlier this money will help us finish up the design and get the first produced units in our backers’ hands.
- $300,000: Battery upgrade: we will offer a battery with a super density ratio offering longer run time.
- $500,000: Software upgrade: we will offer a software upgrade that will allow you to tune the parameters of the controllers and motor drivers similarly to the way that you can tune a car engine.
- $700,000: Foot upgrade: we will offer new foot designs dedicated to improve performance on specific terrains (sand, dirt, etc).
- $1,000,000: Legs upgrade: We will offer custom legs with adjustable stiffness and damping so you can tune your robot.
- $1,500,000: Turbo upgrade: We will implement a new mode in software that can deliver a boost for a short amount of time.
- Sebastien Cotton, Ph.D., Robotics Unlimited Founder and CEO.
- Colton Black, Electronics Designer.
- Nick Payton, Mechanical Designer.
- Ken Ford, Ph.D. Strategic Business Advisor.
- William Howell, Robotic Design and Multimedia Specialist.
- Jason Conrad, Robotic Design and Multimedia Specialist.
Risks and challenges
Since our first prototypes, we have come a long way and have been able to overcome many challenges. We have been able to do what really few people have been able to do: get a robot to run while selling it at an affordable price. We believe this is a real demonstration of how motivated we are and that we never give up, whatever the challenges are. Talking about challenges, do we think we are still facing some? Of course, we are, like in any innovative project.
One of the main risks with a KickStarter project like this one is that it is really hard to estimate correctly how many backers one will have, which can change drastically the manufacturing methods. Fortunately enough, from our experience, we know and have been working with several manufacturers that will be able to handle a large range of production, from low-scale quantity to large-scale orders.
The second risk we see is quality control. In order to get the best injected molded part, we will spend a huge amount of time perfecting the molds and will set up quality inspection at each stage of the manufacturing process. At Robotics Unlimited, we strive on delivering only the best!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Legged system are much more versatile than wheels, they can easily overcome obstacles by stepping over them. The legs also have a suspension element that allows for absorbing disturbances, making the robot extremely stable.
Absolutely, we have several ways of doing that and are currently experimenting which one make more sense for a consumer product.
There are many that look at your design and think, "It's just a wheeled bot with long spokes." and "It can only be stable at running speeds where the legs provide gyroscopic stability." How would you respond to that kind of criticism?
With Science. First let me define what is considered to be running:
1/ You have intermittent contact with the ground from one foot to the other with a flight phase,
2/ fluctuation of kinetic and potential energy,
3/ body orientation, height and speed are stabilized.
OutRunner clearly demonstrates all these points:
1/ the robot is stepping from one foot to another and has a flight phase without ground contact, this is highlighted in the video where the robot is running with 4 legs only.
2/ Legs are spring loaded, this allows for storing the potential energy (due to gravity pulling the robot down) into springs which then restore this energy into thrust (kinetic energy), allowing the robot to move forward. That's one of the reason the robot is so efficient and can run for 2 hours where a RC car equipped with the same battery will work for 10 to 20 minutes at best.
3/ Body orientation can be decomposed around three axis: yaw, pitch and roll. Body pitch is stabilized by the buoyancy effect we are talking about in the "How does it work" section. The gyroscopic effect provided by the legs spinning helps stabilize yaw and roll but that is not it. You'll notice in the front view videos, the robot yawing from left to right and vice-versa with each steps, similarly to a human running. That demonstrates that the ground reaction forces coming from the foot in contact with the ground are pushing back the robot to a neutral position, allowing him to run straight.
Speed and height are also stabilized, you'll notice in the video that the height of the robot doesn't change much and it's able to maintain a constant speed.
Now what about steering? if you want to turn with two wheels, your only solution is to have one wheel spinning faster than the other. In our case that won't work. What we do is to actively shift the center of mass position of the robot with a servomotor to redirect the action of the ground reaction forces, forcing the robot to lean on the side which induces a turn, which is one of the mechanism similar to what bipeds do when they turn.
No, everything in this robot is patented and has intellectual property on it.
- (30 days)