The humanoid robot experimenters world is still relatively small, and stretched across the globe. Yet, when one experimenter comes up with a new twist or interesting robotic creation time and space are no barrier. Everyone communicates almost instantaneously across the internet, so the energy and excitement just builds. When the creators of the Plen robot recently released a video showing the robot roller skating and skateboarding it immediately inspired others in Europe, the US, and other locations to try and either recreate the feat or go Plen one better.
The most recent attempt at Plen's feat took a surprising twist. "Beermat" (his Robosavvy robot forum nickname) created a really professional looking set of skates for his Robonova-1 robot, but was having a few problems coaxing consistent skating moves from his robot. Then he came up with a brilliant idea...
The basic problem that had Beermat hung up was that the Robonova-1 only has 17 degrees of freedom while the Plen design has over 20.
Is it possible for a robot like the Robonova-1, without any ability to rotate its legs individually or its hips, be able to create the rhythmic motions necessary to roller skate? This has become the subject of considerable debate on robot forums, and is still unresolved.
That didn't stop Beermat. He's been making some valiant attempts, and noticeable progress, even if he hasn't managed to hit the nail squarely on the head, at least not yet....
Beermat's robot roller skates look like they were intentionally, and professionally, designed for the task at hand.
So, what to do?
Get rolling of course! Get the show on the road! Generate some forward momentum and see where it goes from there.
Beermat's solution? Equip the Robonova-1 with a set of ski poles! After all, snow skiers often use ski poles and roller blades to practice and keep in shape during the off season. He calls this new robo-sport "Poleskating."
He had already modified his robot to incorporate a set of Robonova-1 grippers, created by Matt Bauer, so holding and using the new poles was relatively easy - though definitely not a piece of cake. After some testing and motion sequence creation, his robot was off to the races, and is even able to execute some neat turns, as you can see in this video that Beermat was kind enough to make available:
He hasn't given up on the quest to have his robot roller skate on its own, but along the way he has managed to come up with a very novel approach. Come next winter, when the snow starts to fly, we fully expect to see Beermat and his robot out trying to set a new record for robot cross country skiing! Who knows, we might even be able to set up a little friendly skiing competition with Dynamizer and Dynamizer Jr.