Rotopod Rotational Legged Locomotion Robot

The rotopod is a robot that walks using rotational legged locomotion. The robot has a continuously whirling mass attached to the top of the device. The Rotopod takes a step by shortening the length of one of its legs. When the reaction mass traverses that leg, the other two legs lift off the ground for a moment. With no reaction torque, the whole body rotates a prescribed amount, thereby moving in a selected direction.


(Rotopod prototypes)

The device was designed by Damian Lyon and Frank Hsu in the Robotics and Computer Vision lab at Fordham University; their work appears to be based on a paper published by DM Lyons and K. Pamnany and presented in 2005. Rotopod was developed with a grant by the US DoD; the goal was to create a low-cost, lightweight robot that can maintain its stability while moving across uneven ground.

The Rotopod is able to "walk" in a variety of different gaits, none of which correspond to direct, bipedal motion. One is called "spiral walking" in which the robot occasionally describes a full circle in the course of walking. The final result looks like a prolate cycloid. The Rotopod has gaits that cover paths that can be described in terms of width as well as mere length.


(Early Rotopod prototype)

In a sense, the Rotopod is a "virtual wheel" in which the legs act as spokes.

If you think this sounds a little like the spider tripod robot that Arthur C. Clarke describes in his 1972 novel Rendezvous with Rama, you're right. In fact, the authors specifically cite Clarke's idea as one of the inspirations for their design.

Ten metres away was a slender-legged tripod surmounted by a spherical body no larger than a football. Set around the body were three large, expressionless eyes, apparently giving 360 degrees of vision, and trailing beneath it were three whiplike tendrils... It reminded Norton of nothing so much as a three-legged spider, or daddy-long-legs, and he wondered how it had solved the problem - never challenged by any creature on Earth - of tripedal locomotion...

...each leg in turn acted as a pivot around which the creature whirled its body... it also seemed to him that every few 'steps' it reversed its direction of spin, while the three whips flickered over the ground like lightning as it moved.
(Read more about Clarke's spider tripod robot)

The original paper for the Rotopod is Rotational legged locomotion; see also this webpage at Fordham University Rotational Legged Locomotion. Thanks to an anonymous reader for the tip on this story!

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/22/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

HEXA Robotic Help For Plants
Then some unknown race had chanced upon the dreamers and decided to "help them out." - Vernor Vinge, 1992.

DIY Robot Shoots You In The Face
'...there were automatic guns that fired ligamine darts.' - Michael Crichton, 1969.

Qoobo Headless Robotic Therapy Cat Was Anne McCaffrey's Idea
'...used as surrogates in intense dependency cases.' - Anne McCaffrey, 1990.

PUFFER Robots - From Philip K DIck's Second Variety?
'Across the ground something small and metallic came, flashing in the dull sunlight of midday.' - Philip K. Dick, 1953.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Dubai Scorpion Police Hoverbike Ready To Pull Young Kirk Over
'Is there a problem, officer?'

HEXA Robotic Help For Plants
Then some unknown race had chanced upon the dreamers and decided to "help them out."

Korean Tesla Model S Video 'Excelsior' Is Indeed Our Motto
'Improving man by bringing him close to Nature, while they combine the sensations of coasting with the interest of seeing the country well...'

DIY Robot Shoots You In The Face
'...there were automatic guns that fired ligamine darts.'

A Bayesian Approach to Safe Imitation Learning For AIs and Robots
Um, how about that pension for the humans who serve as the models for robot behavior?

Qoobo Headless Robotic Therapy Cat Was Anne McCaffrey's Idea
'...used as surrogates in intense dependency cases.'

Autonomous Cars Talk To Each Other At MCity
'My cars talk to one another.'

PUFFER Robots - From Philip K DIck's Second Variety?
'Across the ground something small and metallic came, flashing in the dull sunlight of midday.'

Russian Space Garden
'We saw the gardens, flooded with artificial sunlight...'

Targeted Neuroplasticity Training For 'Downloading Skills'
'I know kung-fu.'

U of M's MCity To Feature Asimov's Automatobuses
Should you turn autonomous buses off?

Crazyflie Drone Swarm Technology
'...Programmed to hang in space in a hexagonal grid pattern.'

Our GodBot, Who Art In Cyberspace
Vaal hungers! We must serve him.

easyJet Short-Haul Electric Jets
Have a little faith, will you? They're working on it.

Meet Assist-e Honda's Self-Balancing Motorcycle
'He had never ridden any motorized device that lacked onboard steering and balance systems...'

Kalashnikov's One-Seater Hovercraft
Not for windy days.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.