THOR is an electromechanical, bi-pedal humanoid platform that has been designed to participate in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (Track A), which focuses on the development of robots for use by first responders in disaster response scenarios. At a high-level, the following four elements define the major accomplishments and features of the THOR platform:
Novel Leg and Actuation Design
The THOR platform uses a custom-built series elastic actuator that is extremely light weight (550 grams) and extremely powerful (peak force of 2000 N). These actuators are coupled with mechanical linkages which provide THOR's joints with nearly 100% mechanical advantage throughout a range of motion greater than that of a human.
Efficient Design, Power Efficient Actuators
The THOR platform is capable of over an hour of untethered operation under normal conditions. The efficiency of the linear actuators and the control system used to drive those actuators allows the THOR platform to use minimal amounts of power during locomotion while not diminishing the strength of the robot.
Intuitive Manipulation and Teleoperation Approach
The Human Machine Interface and Manipulation System have both been designed with first responders as the intended end user. The HMI uses a model predictive teleoperation approach so that even when bandwidth and connectivity to the robot degrades, operators can continue to use the platform. The manipulation control system builds off years of testing and experience with Harris's RedHawk Haptic Feedback device to create an interface which users will be able to pick up quickly and use effectively.
Spectrum of Autonomous Behaviors
THOR employs sliding autonomy to intelligently adapt to bandwidth and environmental constraints. THOR's user interface is designed to allow a finer degree of control over autonomy than is employed by traditional systems.