Using Blender to animate a real robot like a character

Animation tools, character animation, non linear animation

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Using Blender to animate a real robot like a character

Post by Arn-O » Thu Oct 31, 2013 2:45 pm


My primary objective is to animate a robot, a real one.

I'm new to Blender, I have never used it really but I read a couple of tutorials and documentation page. In fact, I still do not know if this software could help. Please find bellow the reason why I think it could and at the end a list a requirement that I would like to validate with the help of the forum.

Robot control programs are usually done to carry out a task, autonomously for the most challenging of them. This is not what I want to do. I want the robot to play a predefined motion sequence. This work could be used by artistic projects using robots.

A robot description is very similar to an "armature" in Blender. We use the word "link" instead of "bone", and "joint" instead of "connexion". I want to be able to animate the robot by defining the robot poses in time.

When controlling a robot, you usually send joint position command. So for the animation, I can easily create a loop in a script in the robotics middleware and send joints pose at each iteration. I need a tool to manage the joint poses for each iteration. And here comes Blender.

I have read in the online documentation and found that the animation tools could be useful for this. For example, I can define a keyframe at a given position in time and Blender interpolates to position in the interval. Very convenient. Moreover, the interpolation can be very precisely tailored, with the Graph Editor. IK would be also useful for what I want to do.

Here is a list of tasks and I wonder if they could be done with Blender:
  • + import the robot description
  • + generate motion sequence (probably similar to a large array of time stamp + joints pose) and dump it to a file
  • + standard or specific file format for the motion sequence, that could be manipulated and imported (my robotics framework uses Python)
I guess that once the robot description is imported, I should be able to manage the motion sequence with Blender, as it provides more features than I need.

My main concern is the ability to export the motion sequence to transfer it to the robotics framework.

Moreover, of you have ever heard of something similar, let me know.

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