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Looking at pictures of existing designs for quadropod robots, the servos in the legs seem to usually be mounted inside the chassis, with a second attachment at back of the servo as well, such as this:

Servo attached front and back

rather than putting what looks like an asymmetrical load, like the knees here:

Servo attached one side only

Is this for aesthetics or are there real structural reasons to minimize the lateral load on the axle on a robot of this size?

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The second design will put more stress on the servos over time, so there are indeed real structural reasons for the design.

However, it also looks like the second design is more of a prototype compared to the first. And it's possible that the second design is trying to save weight, sacrificing some servo life in the interest of that goal.

Reducing total weight and increasing the speed at which you can iterate on your design are just 2 possible factors for why you might use a component in a suboptimal way. Those tradeoffs really come down to individual preference.

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