Robot Transforms Wheels into Legs for Any Situation
The Leg-Wheel Hybrid Mobile Platform.
CREDIT: Pei-Chun Lin
A new robot can navigate all sorts of terrain by transforming its limbs from wheels into legs and back again. That allows the so-called Quattroped to move fast on flat surfaces while also climbing up and over stairs and other obstacles.
The legs take shape when the wheels fold into half-circles and become whegs, according to IEEE Spectrum. Quattroped can then move forward determinedly with a straight-on walk where its whegs rotate like wheels, or even approximate the "dance-walking" of natural limbed creatures. Such a design came out of National Taiwan University's Bio-Inspired Robotic Laboratory (BioRoLa) in Taipei.
The robot may not have the finest perception, but the Taiwanese lab has loaded it with GPS, vision sensors and a laser ranger to help it navigate the surroundings. On the behavioral side, the lab has also begun refining the variety of legged behaviors to test which ones work best on different terrains.
Most of the robot's computing brain is situated onboard, but a remote-control PC allows a human user to issue high-level commands and monitor the robot's internal health.
Such flexibility on the go may help future robots explore even more wild places beyond wonders such as Egypt's pyramids. Perhaps a future NASA robonaut won't have to choose between just legs or wheels on the surface of the moon or Mars.
Top 5 Reasons to Fear Robots
How the Terminator Could Play Peacekeeper
9 Cyborg Enhancements Available Right Now