PROXI High-Efficiency Humanoid Robot Platform | SRI International

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PROXI High-Efficiency Humanoid Robot Platform

PROXI, SRI's humanoid robot
PROXI, SRI's humanoid robot

SRI Robotics is developing the PROXI™ humanoid robot, which can operate up to 20 times more efficiently than current humanoid robotic platforms.

After the Fukushima, Japan nuclear accident in 2011, DARPA laid out a challenge to the world’s most advanced robotics R&D organizations to develop humanoid robots capable of assisting humans in responding to natural and manmade disasters. Much progress has been made in developing high-performance robots that can operate in human environments and conduct conventional tasks such as driving cars, turning valves, and removing debris. However, the majority of these humanoids were designed with performance in mind, not efficiency. They are electrically powered by gear reducers that result in low power efficiency, which limits their functionality.

To meet both the high-performance and high-efficiency requirements set out by the DARPA Robotics Challenge, SRI is taking a three-pronged approach:

  1. The mechanical design includes a novel transmission, which reduces friction and increases efficiency to 97 percent (as opposed to 60-to-70 percent efficiency in current modern commercial transmissions).
  2. The electronics design is all electric: electric batteries connect directly to low-cost electric motors, enabling throughput of a significant amount of current without overheating.   
  3. The walking gait is dynamically stable by incorporating springs in the legs to store and release energy, and resembles the natural gait of a human as opposed to the standard slow, squatted, methodical gait employed by current humanoids. In addition, energy from the robot’s impact with the ground is stored as mechanical energy in the springs, and does not get converted into another form of energy, resulting in added efficiency.

Many of the technologies and components in the PROXI humanoid robot—such as low-cost electronics, high-efficiency transmissions, stability control, and energy-efficient motion control—are being applied to other SRI Robotics programs. Future applications for the high-efficiency humanoid robot include support for firefighting, disaster response, and potentially household assistance.

Key Features
  • Designed for eight hours of continuous operation (walking)
  • Low-cost, high-performance electric motors
  • Novel transmission with 97 percent efficiency
  • Battery capacity: 2.2 kWh; weight: 19 kg
  • Weight: 100 kg
  • Robust underactuated hands with 100 kg grip force
  • Modular, high-efficiency electronics
  • Torque sensing on every joint to enable compliant, human-friendly interaction
  • 10 kHz local control of current, torque, and position
  • Energy-storing spring for efficient walking
  • Excellent mechanical acceleration exceeds 130 rad/s2

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