University of Pennsylvania researchers have created the X-Rhex Lite (XRL), a robot with six curved legs that can do a handstand, jump over gaps, and climb over rocks, all movements that could be used in hazardous situations.
"Overall, we're really interested in making a robot that can go anywhere," says Pennsylvania graduate student Aaron Johnson.
The researchers designed the robot with legs instead of wheels because legs can more readily maneuver on rough and uneven terrain. Furthermore, the researchers designed XRL with curved, one-joint legs, which enable it to manipulate its body into handstands, flips, and jumps.
"The way the legs work naturally help get it over the rocks but they're also useful in forward jumps," Johnson says. "The [legs'] rolling contact allows Rhex to throw itself forward in a more effective manner. The challenge has really been trying to push as much performance out of the machine as possible, trying to get over the biggest gap or over the largest rock."
The researchers currently are working on making the robot more proficient in traveling over rough terrain.
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