MM: Robot Delivery Service; Tires From Trees

In this Manufacturing Minute episode, a bi-pedal delivery service robot and creating tires from grass and trees.

Cassie Robot

Having a robot delivery service is one step closer with the introduction of the latest bi-pedal robot Cassie.

Cassie is a dynamic walker, meaning it moves much more like a human than other bipedal robots currently out there. Developed by Agility Robotics, Cassie is able to handle diverse and complex terrain that humans walk on every day. 

Cassie features a 3-degrees-of-freedom hip, just like humans, which allows the robot to move its legs forward, backward, side to side or rotate them, all at the same time. The robot also boasts powered ankles that allow it to stand in one place without having to constantly move its feet.

Videos show Cassie plodding along sidewalks, through snow, grass and even balancing on a wobbling deck. Developers say the ability to traverse varied terrain is essential in order for robots to actually be useful around people. 

Developers say a robot with legs can go a lot of places that robots with wheels cannot.

In addition to uses in search and rescue missions, a leading application for this type of mobility is package delivery. 

However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done before Cassie is helping carry in the groceries. Researchers say arms and sensors — which will help Cassie pick itself up after falling over — are coming soon and VR-style telepresence is also in the works.


Could this bipedal robot could be the next step in efficient automated logistics? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Tires From Grass And Trees

Tire production is a resource-intensive process that relies heavily on petroleum. With such a big impact on our environment, a search for a more sustainable manufacturing method has been sought for years. While these efforts have generally focused more on a molecule called isoprene, the main component of rubber, scientists have proclaimed a chemical breakthrough that replaces isoprene with one sourced from grass and tress instead—all without affecting the color, shape or performance of a tire. 

Researchers at the University of Minnesota claim they have made breakthrough with a new chemical process that combines the boosting of natural microbial fermentation with catalytic refining, similar to the process used to refine petroleum. 

Through a three step process, the new method resulted in catalytic efficiency as high as 90 percent, with most of the product being isoprene. Researchers say the findings give the prospect of renewable isoprene a real boost and could even lead to other advanced rubber-based products.


Do you think this will help move us away from petroleum-based rubber products? Tell us what you think by leaving your comments below. 

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