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Ski robot developed

A team of scientists from Japan is building a robot to help discover the effects of joint motions on skiing and hopefully help people become better skiers.

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The team come from Kanazawa University and details of their research has been published in a recent issue of Sports Engineering.

Computer simulations face many technical challenges and though the information given out is precise, is it acurate?

They have tried to develop an exact simulation of what happens to a persons joints and muscles when they ski.

The robot itself consists of two legs attached to skis, with a large “waist” that contained the computer and battery. They have modified the robot’s centre of mass to its ski separation distance; a version of the robot with the correct human ratio was very prone to falling over – pretty accurate so far then 🙂

Despite the differences in size, mass, and mass distribution, the robot was capable of performing several successful test runs on an 11-meter-long test slope covered in artificial grass with an inclination of 20°.

“There have been several attempts at researching ski turns using a skiing robot,” Takeshi Yoneyama of Kanazawa University told PhysOrg.com.

“But there have been few considerations on the conditions required to simulate human skiing with a robot. Our attempt is to clarify the considerations for developing a modelling system using a ski robot. We also wanted to express that we are approaching this subject to obtain some useful knowledge for human skiers.”

The robot has 6 motors in each leg and an onboard computer controls the joint angles. The robot also has force sensors between each “foot” and ski, and an odometer at the rear of each ski, while a video camera at the base of the slope recorded the robot’s ski run.

The scientists can investigate the relations among joint angles and turn trajectory.

The researchers also programmed a motion plan based on the skiing style of world cup racer, Gaku Hirasawa, who turns his waist to face inside the turn arc.

Copying this technique made the robot’s turn faster and more stable.

It seems to be questionable whether anything learnt so far will actually helps skiers but the scientists want to continue with their work as they are confident it will do.

Here at PlanetSKI our advice if you want to ski better is simple in the extreme; slow everything down, stay balanced and push down on your skis and let them do the work.

Don’t forget to check out the latest blog from our content editor, James Cove, on his new found fascination with The Tour de France that ends this weekend.

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