Abstract

Animatronics creatively applies the skills of mechanical, electrical, and software engineering in order to recreate the movements of the creatures they replace. This paper discusses the design and development of an animatronic eye actuation and control system that reproduces realistic eye movements and expressions by drawing from the biomechanics of the human eye. Three modular, yet well integrated, eye components were developed to reproduce the movements of the eyeballs, the eyelids, and the eyebrows. The mechanical eyeballs mimic a human’s saccadic, convergence, and tracking movements. The eyelids can be programmed to move both slowly and rapidly to adjust for the proper range of expressions. The eyebrows can convey a variety of emotions by wrinkling the forehead in a fashion similar to the human eyebrows. A widely adaptable PC software interface controls the system’s servo motors to recreate human-like facial expressions ranging from sleepy and slow moving to rapid, alert behaviors. Discussed is the design process that brought the extremely complex roles of the eye muscles, tissues, and tendons to a cleverly adapted and easily constructed mechanical eye system. Careful analysis of the biomechanical function of the human eye structure was conducted, and a model that could most effectively recreate similar movements was developed.

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