The Allosaurus Robot
Father of the Idea

Hi, I’m Robert from Nurmijärvi. I am a Telecommunications Specialist. My expertise also includes teleinformatics and information technology.

I enjoy challenges, at work as well as in my hobbies. For the past 40 years my hobbies have consisted of designing and constructing various electronic, mechanic, radio-controlled, and PC-controlled devices (such as boats, cars, and beach buggies) as well as various robots, among other things. In addition to that, in 1995 I wrote a buyer’s guide for computers.

Allosaurus Robot in the Public Eye

When the building of the Allosaurus robot was in its early stages, the robot was presented in the television show Verkkoyhteys (“Network Connection”) on the channel YLE Teema on November 8, 2004 as well as on YLE TV 1 on November 9 and 10, 2004.

Allosaurus has also been widely presented in 2005: on May 1 in the afternoon paper Iltasanomat; on May 4 in the ten o'clock news on the TV channel MTV3 and in May in numerous local newspapers.

The Allosaurus robot visited in the Finnish Science Centre Heureka in Tikkurila, Vantaa on June 4 and 5, 2005. The pictures:

How Does It Work?

This mechanical ”monster”, i.e. a computer-controlled walking dinosaur, is the most extraordinary, multifaceted, and ambitious of all the robots I have built. The length of the robot reaches 2.4 metres and its height ca. 1.3 metres. Its weight is ca. 25 kg. The robot resembles the allosaurus, a carnivorous dinosaur or theropod, which lived approx. 150 million years ago. It has been built in a scale of 5:1.

The portable computer and the control system of the robot communicate wirelessly by radio modems that have a range of about 2 km. The robot employs the controlling computer as its brain, so to speak. It uses an ultrasonic transmitter/receiver to identify obstacles. A wireless video/audio transmitter unit with a colour video camera will also be installed to the robot. Halogen light bulbs function as the robot’s eyes, so that it can also transmit video image in the dark.

The robot will be able to move almost exactly like the real dinosaur with its 13 servomotors, several balance systems, and dozens of sensors. The robot does not only recognise the position of its frame and joints, motions, fuse functions, and exterior lighting but also the inside and outside temperatures. Due to its mechanic-electronic spirit level with 8 positions the computer can sense even the slightest tilt angle in any direction. Hence, it is impossible for the robot to fall down under any circumstances. The robot is equipped with an emergency stop and fault diagnosis that monitors the information from the sensors. It automatically sends a warning of possible malfunctions to the PC. If the fault is caused by insufficient electronic or operating voltage, the robot shuts down and an alarm signal sounds to inform that it can no longer be controlled. Furthermore, the robot’s voice – an actual dinosaur voice – can be remote-controlled as well.

A small factory plant could be automated with the program and control logic that I have developed. It would qualify for instance as a burglar alarm system. In principle any kind of process that requires a wireless remote control system and identification signals from different sensors can be controlled with it. The control logic can handle local control as well, in consequence of its being equipped with a RS-232 connection for any computer. The control logic can control 32 different functions, and it reads the information from 64 different sensors either analogically or digitally.

In addition to the demo programmes, the robot includes the following programmes: reading of all sensors, fault diagnostics, manual control of the robot, automatic drive of joints to normal position, walking, learning, and drive according to the learned programme. These programmes require altogether ca. 2,500–3,000 lines of code.

The time estimate for this project (designing and constructing the complete mechanics, electronics, and computer-programmes) was approximately one year and about 3,000 working hours. The preliminary completion of the robot took place in the beginning of May in 2005. The project will still go on with the improvement of various parts, functions, and programmes and with testing. On account of the costs I had to aband on the video camera planned for the robot for the time being.

Dreams Come True

On my birthday the 40-year-old dream of a walking robot turned into reality. The allosaurus robot took its first steps without falling down. It was remote controlled manually with the keyboard of the computer. Even though it was a small step for the robot, it was a huge step for me. Finally I had proved to myself that a little boy’s dream can indeed one day become true. I had also proved that one does not require millions of euros to construct a robot like this. By designing and manufacturing the parts, electronics, and programmes oneself it can be accomplished with relatively scant expenses.

A few days later the walking program was finished. Now the robot walks fully independently controlled by the computer.

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