Posted by Wade
As we learned during our attempt to scale up TrotBot, not all robot's legs will walk by pushing or pulling the robot. When we pushed TrotBot Ver 0 with its more rectangular-shaped footpath, the cranks would initially rotate, and then the linkage would freeze and the feet would skid on the pavement. Instead, we had to manually rotate TrotBot's cranks to make it walk:
The same thing happened when we tried to push our LEGO Klann walkers with the motors disengaged - the feet would skid and the cranks would not rotate. In both cases, this was due to the linkage being at a sort of reverse Dead-Point.
This behavior can be predicted from the image of Klann's linkage below. Notice that when the crank is in such a horizontal position, all four feet are at the bottom corners of Klann's triangular foot-path. Also notice that the feet slow to a virtual stop at these corners, as indicated by how bunched together the red dots are at the bottom corners of the foot-path. In other words, rotating the crank +/- 10 degrees from this horizontal position would barely cause the feet to move. This also means that pushing the robot (and hence the feet) would not cause the feet to move nor the crank to rotate. Instead, it would only cause the legs to bend and the feet to skid, as happens with our prototypes.
This behavior is also indicated by linked bars being parallel - notice in the image above that the legs' connections to the crank are parallel with the crank, a tell-tale sign of a Dead-Point.
Below the crank has been rotated past this dead point where crank rotation causes foot movement, and also where pushing Klann's legs would cause the crank to rotate:
If another pair of legs were added to each side of Klann, as done in the simulation of Strider below, then maybe its legs could be driven by pushing the robot (although one of Klann's feet would still skid at the corner of the foot-path, so it may not work so well - maybe adding feet that could slide or rotate a little would help?)
Here's a test to see how easily this linkage variation #6 of Strider's mechanism can be driven by an external force - gravity in this case:
Notice how the robot wavers slightly to the left and right as it descends, due to the foot-speed varying a little. Linkage variation 7 below has more consistent foot speed, and waivers less
Strider's legs can also be driven by pushing the robot when built in an 8-leg version, although not nearly as efficiently as 12-leg versions, and the ramp's slope had to be increased to get an 8-legged Strider to walk below:
Dead-Points part 1 is here.