igus has recently presented a prestigious manus UK award to Engineered Arts in recognition of the company’s use of polymer bearings within its RoboThespian humanoid robots.

RoboThespian is fitted with iglidur bearings on all rotating shafts, which has enabled its movements and gestures to be more fluid and friction-free, giving a convincing and human-like performance.

RoboThespian is a life sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in a public place. Being fully interactive, multilingual and user friendly, it offers a new and memorable way to communicate and entertain. Users can set it up for inspirational educational, business or theatrical performances simply by writing their own scripts – these can be elevated to truly spectacular shows with multiple RoboThespians working together.

RoboThespian was designed by Engineered Arts, which has a reputation as a developer of full-size humanoid robots for communications, research and entertainment. It was originally intended for use in science and technology centres as an entertaining vehicle for content delivery. RoboThespian represents the future of technology with leading edge features including motion capture, object recognition and telepresence. Over 40 RoboThespians are now installed in 14 countries around the world.

Simple to operate and maintain, they are trusted by national science centres including NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, visitor attractions, commercial users and academic research institutions.

RoboThespian has over 26 axes, powered with a mixture of pneumatic and servo actuators. Engineered Arts constantly strives to make its behaviour and movements as human-like and smooth as possible. Long service life, high reliability and easy serviceability are essential – the robots are deployed around the world in locations such as visitor attractions, and subjected to continuous daily use, as well as live TV and event appearances.

These issues have been successfully addressed, with the bonus of a significant reduction in weight, through designing-in maintenance-free iglidur J and G polymer bearings on all rotational shafts – a total of 85 iglidur bearings are used to help ease movement throughout the body from head to toe. This contributes to a longer life for RoboThespians around the world. The low friction, small size and lightweight iglidur bearings complement the anodised aerospace grade aluminium components used throughout RoboThespian. They form the basis for the smooth human-like movements and gesturing now evident whenever RoboThespian is in action.

“We have a great relationship with the people at igus and receive a first class service from them,” commented Marcus Hold, design and production engineer at Engineered Arts. “The products are of excellent quality and are reliable which is of the utmost importance to us, as our humanoid robots are required to perform daily without fail in busy public environments.”

He continued, “The impact of the iglidur bearings on RoboThespian’s performance is just as important – without igus, he wouldn’t be able to move in the smooth way he does today.”