Asterisk - Omni-directional Insect Robot Picks Up Prey
A research group at Osaka University, led by Professor Arai, is developing a six-legged robot, with features of the design borrowed from insects. This robot walks on six legs, and it can use two legs as arms when needed, so it can pick things up and carry them.
"We originally obtained design hints from animals. So we've made this kind of robot based on the principle that two pairs of three legs are stable."
"A feature of the moving parts is that, as well as normal walking motion, they can handle some degree of height difference. So this robot can get over elevations. Another big feature is, it can also get through narrow places, by lowering its body."
The six legs of this robot each have four joints. The legs are arranged around the center at 60 degree intervals, giving the robot the same working range in all directions. There is also no distinction between the top and bottom of the robot. So if it falls over, it can get up easily by turning its legs the other way.
"Although we haven't installed them on this unit, the robot can also have touch sensors on the ends of it's limbs. So it can detect whether it's picked up an object properly."
A version of this robot appeared at the 2005 World Expo held in Aichi, Japan, but the robot is constantly undergoing improvements and given more features, increasing it's versatility.
"This is one of our latest versions. It can climb by hooking its legs onto something like the net on this wall. We're also developing a robot that can move more dynamically, by cartwheeling."
"One of our original aims was to use this robot in rescue work. We'd also like it to help with things like building maintenance. Anyway, we hope to develop it further, so it could be used in situations like the recent earthquake."