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Applied Bionics and Biomechanics
Volume 7 (2010), Issue 1, Pages 83-94

Design, Development and Control of a Hopping Machine – an Exercise in Biomechatronics

Kuldip Naik,1 Mehran Mehrandezh,2 and John Barden3

1iQmetrix, Regina, SK, Canada
2Faculty of Engineering, University of Regina, Canada
3Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies, University of Regina, Canada

Received 2 September 2009

Copyright © 2010 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Hopping is a complicated dynamic behaviour in the animal kingdom. Development of a hopping machine that can mimic the biomechanics of jumping in Homo sapiens is envisioned. In this context, the design, development and control of a cost-effective, pneumatically actuated, one-legged hopping machine were initiated at the University ofRegina in 2005. The pneumatic actuator has a simple design that employs an off-the-shelf on/off control valve which regulates the air pressure supplied to the hopper's body using a pulse width modulated (PWM) signal. The objective is to maintain a constant jumping height in the hopper after going through a finite number of hopping cycles. The mechanistic model of the system was investigated in full detail. This model facilitates: (1) the design of the actuating system, and (2) the synthesis and verification of different control strategies in a simulation environment prior to implementation in the real world. The movement of the hopper is supported by a vertical slide; therefore, the hopper can only jump in place. However, the proposed control strategy and the propulsion unit can be further utilised for stable hopping in a 3-D environment. A model-free Neuro-PD controller was then designed, trained and implemented on a real system. Simulation and experimentation showed promising results. This system can be used as an educational tool for teaching real-time control of hybrid and non-linear systems. It can be also used as a biomechatronics test bed to simulate the effect of different timings in firing action potentials in jump-causing leg muscles on achieving a desired jumping height in the animal kingdom.