OpenLeg, a new open source project for building robot legs

Navigating multi-level environments, including stairs and unstructured environments such as a floor with debris or uneven terrain, is difficult for wheeled robots. Legged robots such as quadrupeds are able to excel in these environments. However, it’s far easier to give robot a wheel than to give a robot leg or wings. How about doing so with an open-source leg?

This can be possible, thanks to the OpenLeg, a new open source project for building robot legs. The idea behind the project – created by Joey Byrnes and the team at the University of Illinois – is to create a robot leg that others can use to build four-legged robots that is compatible with the surrounding environment.

As you can see in the video given below, the prototypes of OpenLeg can produce a variety of motions, from literal kick-boxing moves down to a more conventional walking gait. It is mostly 3D printed, with a few bits of carbon fiber adding strength.

The open-source leg is powered by large 50 Kv motor designed for electric skateboards driven by an ODrive controller that handles most of the complexities of driving a big motor like this and handling the kinematic and other complex stuff.

All you need to do is just plug the design into your own robot and set it walking with a few lines of Python, but that’s still a ways off.

The projects like OpenLeg can really be helpful in dealing with the difficulty of developing a legged robot.