The LSU Robo-Tiger project is a joint effort involving LSU’s Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Athletic departments. The goal is build a cybernetic tiger that can be used to help the school mascot, Mike the Tiger, with his duties at the schools various athletic functions. The idea was conceived by Dr. S.S. Iyengar and Dr. Lynn Jelinski late in the fall semester of 1999. Under the direction of Dr. S.S. Iyengar, the LSU Computer Science department’s Robot Research Lab has conducted preliminary studies to determine the feasibility of the project.
The first phase of the project consisted of constructing a small prototype of the tiger. The original prototype, nicknamed Mickey, was used to identify the various issues involved developing a full sized robotic tiger. Although the prototype is a much simplified version of the final product, many of the ideas, concepts, algorithms and construction methods are applicable. Below we have outlined the key areas in which research and development is taking place.
Mechanical considerations include the underlying skeleton and joints, the actuators, and the body panels. The overall shape of the robot is a direct result of its skeletal structure, as is the robot’s static and dynamic stability. Since the prototype was to be a small version of Mike the tiger, it was decided that its basic size, proportions, and physical characteristics would be modeled after those of a cat. To get a feel for the various dimensions, measurements of a cat skeleton were crosschecked against measurements taken directly from four cats. It was decided early on that the joints would move only in one dimension and for simplicity sake, the hip joints would not be articulated. Therefore, neither Mickey nor the second prototype, Stubby, would be able to reach across their bodies. From the measurement data, and proportions, a mock-up of the prototypes skeleton was built. In figures 1 through 3, the mockup is shown in various positions typical of cats.