Legged robots are superior to wheeled robots when it comes to traversing various types of terrain. But legs require balance, and if a two- or even four-legged robot falls over, it might not be able to get back up. One solution would be to make a robot that is virtually all legs. Maybe a dozen legs. Hell, why not 32 legs?
That was the thinking behind Mochibot, a robot created by researchers at Keio University and the University of Tokyo, reports IEEE Spectrum.
It might look fairly terrifying coming at you with all those metal urchin-like appendages, but it’ll have an easy time manoeuvring and reaching its destination.
Mochibot’s telescopic legs have three sliding parts that can extend to nearly 60cm. These give the bot the multidirectional manoeuvrability of a sphere, but also allow it to shape to the ground it’s trying to traverse. It isn’t as dependent on good traction and can more easily roll-crawl on pebbles and sand than, say, BB-8, according to Mochibot’s creators.
And if one of the legs jams or breaks, then the robot will likely still be able to keep rambling.
Just look at that creepy metal globular echinoderm go!
As IEEE Spectrum points out, the robot could be used in planetary exploration or disaster response. Hopefully, future versions of the Mochibot will have different feet that don’t look like a bunch of toadstools.