- Traditional robots lack dynamism and safety in their movements, that's why they're often only seen in ‘controlled’ environments such as factories or research labs.
- To take androids into the world among us, 1X has engineered robotic systems that package compliant and transparent transmissions with our in-house developed high torque density motors, allowing for safety, agility and adaptability.
In the ever-evolving landscape of robotics, 1X is leading the charge towards redefining the capabilities of androids for real-world impact. Unlike traditional systems that excelled in controlled lab environments but stumbled when faced with the unpredictability of the real world, our goal is to design general purpose androids that will function effectively in any scenario.
At the heart of this endeavor is the development of a biped Android capable of safe and dynamically dexterous tasks. NEO is 1.65 meters tall, weighs 30 kilograms, has 55 degrees of freedom (including hands), and is made of meticulously crafted components.
January 2024, 1X will be hosting “Open House”. Allowing a selected group of people to learn more about how we’re working to achieve our goals and get a taste of what it means to be a vertically integrated robotics company.
Navigating Hardware Challenges in Robotics
The journey towards creating dynamic and safe androids has its challenges. One significant problem is the lack of commercially available motors and transmission systems that allow the design of passively safe and high-performance robots.
For androids to function alongside humans, safety is paramount. Robots built with highly geared and/or low efficiency transmission elements (harmonic drives, leadscrews…) show very little compliance, making the robot interactions with the world very rigid and unsafe. In addition to that, the high friction, high weight and high inertia of such systems end up translating into slow, clumsy, or unreliable robots.
Moreover, most of the off-the-shelf motors are made for applications where the torque-to-weight ratio - or torque-to-volume ratio - is very low. Therefore, by using such motors, it is often necessary to use a high gear ratio transmission to achieve the desired torque at the output. This high gear ratio acts as a multiplier of not only the torque, but also the inertia and friction. This is what we call internally a “non-transparent transmission”.
1X’s transparent transmissions and high torque density motors
In robotics, especially when building humanoid robots, it is crucial to have a profound influence over the form factor and functionality of all subsystems and components. Almost every inch of the 1X hardware and software is designed in-house, allowing us to fine-tune every aspect of our androids keeping safety, performance, and cost under our control when the Android hits the market.
1X’s vertical integration approach expands wide and deep into our technology stack. One of the main layers of this stack is what we call "transparent transmission". In simple terms, our cable drive transmissions are designed so that we can precisely determine the torque at the output (joint) based on measuring the torque at the input (motor), without needing expensive torque sensors. The low friction and low inertia along the transmission is negligible, ensuring its “transparency”.
Another important asset of this “transparent transmission” is our in-house developed electric motors. We’ve designed them in a way that the torque-to-weight ratio (and torque-to-volume ratio) is very high. This allows us to package high torque joints without the need of a high gear ratio transmission, making the robot joints very low in terms of inertia, mechanical losses, and weight. This “quasi-direct” concept takes very little space, allowing NEO to have a form factor similar to a 1.65-meter human.
Submit your interest to Open House
All above help us to build androids that are intrinsically compliant, safe, low cost, and dynamic allowing NEO to carry or lift human-like payloads.
The open house in January 2024 serves as an opportunity for robotics engineers to witness firsthand the strides we’re making to have Android companions in our daily lives. Our CEO, Bernt Øivind Børnich, and top software and hardware engineers will share insights into our journey of crafting our Androids.
Submit your interest in participating here.