Attila: A Six Legged Autonomous Walking Robot


Attila was built at the MIT AI Lab in Professor Rodney Brooks Mobot Lab. The design and construction of the physical robot was Colin Angle's Masters Thesis. The programming of the robot was Cynthia Ferrell's Masters Thesis. It was built during the period of 1989-1991. I was a research assistant for Rod from January 1990 to August 1990. During that period I worked on the robot. I worked on only a small part of the system. Cyndi and I designed and layed out the leg controller boards. I also designed and prototyped a display subsystem which could output black and white video from the main processor or live from the frame grabber.

[Attila with Laser Eyes]

Watch out for those deadly simulated "laser beam" eyes!

The Specs

Attila was a relatively small robot about 16" square and standing about 8" high. It was autonomous, it had all of its power and computing on board. It had six legs, each with three degrees of freedom. Each leg had two PC boards mounted on it, one which performed analog signal conditioning for the sensors and one which contained the digital logic and a 87C51 microprocessor. Each leg processor was linked together by a local area network (I2C) to the main processor which was a 68070. Each leg had position sensors for each motion axis, three degrees of strain guage based force sensing, a foot contact sensor, and proximity sensors which looked forward and back. The robot also had a head with pan/tilt which contained a ranger finder and a CCD camera which was frame grabbed on board the robot. It also had an actuated whisker which was used for forward sensing. There was also a global degree of freedom which could re-orient all of the legs to help climbing on steep slopes.

[Attila Image]

Attila in space...

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Author: Charles Rosenberg,
-- First Edition: 9/20/97
-- Last Update: 10/5/97