Swimming is a popular sport, for many years researchers have been using videos of swimmers to analyze how human body moves through water and how to reduce the resistance. But the problem is humans are not able to repeat exact the same movements. Besides it is also difficult to measure the resistance and propulsion received from the water.
Researchers Chung Changhyun and Motomu Nakashima at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have developed a robot that can reproduce the motion of human swimmers while measuring water resistance. This robot is named SWUMANOID (Swimming Humanoid) and it is the first robot created solely for swimming.
The SWUMANOID can reproduce exactly how a swimmer moves and allow researchers to repeat tests or make adjustments.
To make SWUMANOID, researchers first performed a 3D scan of a real person's body and then use 3D printed parts to make a 1/2 model. In addition, they added 20 water-proof motors and programmed the motions that the robot could reproduce breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly and even dog paddle. Also, if the robot wears swimsuit it is possible for researchers to measure effect of swimming suit design. It can be used in the development of performance-enhancing swimwear.
Because it is still a prototype, SWUMANOID moves not quicker than human beings. It takes 156 seconds (2m 36s) to finish 100 meter swimming. In the future researchers expect to build a life-sized robot with improved speed and more freedom to model real swimming.
The results of experiment are expected to be presented at the Aero Aqua-Biomechanisms Symposium (ISABMEC 2012) in Taiwan this August.
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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