igus has presented a prestigious manus UK award to Engineered Arts for the company's use of 85 iglidur polymer plain bearings in the RoboThespian humanoid robot. RoboThespian robots feature iglidur bearings on all rotating shafts, which enables the movements and gestures to be more fluid and friction-free, giving a convincingly human-like performance.
Engineered Arts' RoboThespian is a 40kg, life-sized humanoid robot that has been developed for human interaction in public places. Being fully interactive, multilingual and user-friendly, it offers a new and memorable way to communicate and entertain. Users can set it up for inspirational educational, business or theatrical performances simply by writing their own scripts using the intuitive graphical configurator software; these can be elevated to truly spectacular shows with multiple RoboThespians working together, and the robots can be mounted on, for example, remotely controlled platforms.
RoboThespian was designed by Engineered Arts Limited, which has a worldwide reputation as a developer of full-size humanoid robots for communications, research and entertainment. It was originally intended for use in science and technology centres as an entertaining vehicle for content delivery. Robo Thespian incorporates leading-edge features such as motion capture, object recognition and telepresence. Over 40 RoboThespians are now installed in 16 countries around the world. Simple to operate and maintain, they are trusted by national science centres including NASA's Kennedy Space Center, visitor attractions, commercial users and academic research institutions.
RoboThespian has 27 mechanical degrees of freedom, powered with a mixture of pneumatic actuators (both cylinders and air muscles) and servo-controlled brushless DC motor axes, together with wire-wound springs and lightweight chains on many of the axes. Engineered Arts constantly strives to make its biomimetic robots' behaviour and movements as human-like and smooth as possible. Furthermore, long operating life, high reliability and easy serviceability are essential; the robots are deployed around the world in locations such as visitor attractions, and subjected to continuous daily use, as well as live TV and event appearances. To help minimise the servicing costs, each robot is equipped with remote diagnostics that can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
One way in which the issues of long service life, high reliability and easy serviceability have been addressed is through the use of iglidur J and G polymer bearings on all rotational shafts, which are manufactured from aerospace-grade anodised aluminium alloy. The igus iglidur bearings are lightweight, maintenance-free, have a long and predictable service life, and provide smooth motion that is free from stick-slip. A total of 85 standard iglidur bearings are used throughout the robot's body, from head to toe.
Marcus Hold, a Design & Production Engineer at Engineered Arts, comments: "We have a great relationship with the people at igus and receive a first-class service from them. The products are of excellent quality and are reliable, which is of the utmost importance to us, as our humanoid robots are required to perform daily without fail in busy public environments.
"The impact of the iglidur bearings on RoboThespian's performance is just as important - without igus, he would not be able to move in the smooth way he does today."