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The beginning – Reverse pendulum

Way back when in the days of Uni, one of the other students and I wrote the code to get this reverse pendulum going. We managed it in about 3 weeks. The machine was already made and is owned by Murdoch University. At this point I realised that the hardware is more than capable of handling a walking machine and the real challenge was in the applied mathematics. However I also realised that the amount of man hours & physical resources would be quite large. More than I wanted to take on myself. So here we are about 10 years after this initial project, trying to pull together some people with the resources and other people with the skill sets using the framework of a company to make it happen. We’ve estimated about 10,000 man hours (5 man years) to get to a general working device which can walk around on fairly flat ground. That’s not allowing for a whole lot of other factors like admin or accounting. Looking at what’s been done using company structures before in shipping, trains and space exploration it seems feasible.

With the power of micro controllers in the mid 1990’s I thought we would have had a commercial level walking device most businesses afford by now, but the best we’ve got is Spot by Boston Dynamics. It’s great, but it’s not a biped which fits into human spaces the way a human does. Yes it’s the natural progression to start with four legs, but it’s just taken such a long time. It’s probably due to the fact that there were boards of directors controlling these types of projects.

Almost without fail, great products that actually work well have one person as the visionary. If there is a board of directors there will always be a conflict of ideas and the team will be pulling in two different directions at the same time killing the focus. This project has one visionary and director being myself. If someone else has a different way of approaching the project, then go start a company also. Just as long as this other person stays as the one visionary of that company. Hopefully we can be friends and sit down to have a coffee on any given morning and compare notes.

Dion Patelis.