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 ")

Abundant Robotics Autonomous Apple Harvester Robot
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant... cutting off the ripe fruit.' Otfrid von Hanstein, 1935.

China Building Robot Wives
'Want a life-companion, a pleasant one?' - Alice W. Fuller, 1895.

Stan, Robot Valet, Will Drag Your Car Away
'He activated the grapple tracks. ' - Frank Herbert, 1977.

Jibo Home Robot Says Goodbye, Is Killswitched
'It resembles an oyster....' Philip K. Dick, 1968.

 

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

'Metallic Wood' Strong Like Titanium, Floats In Water
'A metal... light as cork and stronger than steel...'

Seabreacher, H.G. Winter's 1939 Torpoon
'Ken lay full-length in the padded body compartment, his feet resting on the controlling bars of the directional planes, hands on the torpoon's engine levers.'

Abundant Robotics Autonomous Apple Harvester Robot
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant... cutting off the ripe fruit.'

Charging An Electric Car In 2019 (Video), 1912 (Photo) And 1894 (Fiction)
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'

Japan Uses Explosives On Asteroid
'...a tiny, rocket-powered projectile, drove towards the mysterious bulk. It hit, exploding into a cloud of incandescent vapour.'

Get Your Speeder Flying Motorcycle From Jetpack Aviation
'The flycycles were miracles of compact design.'

FLIR Black Hornet 3 Palm-sized Drone
These drones can provide situational awareness beyond visual line-of-sight capability.

Dockworkers Protest Driverless Trucks
'It resembled conventional human-operated transportation vehicles, but with one exception -- there was no driver's cabin.'

Flying Car Concept By Kash Sirinanda
'Each one consists of a hub with many tiny spokes... On the end is a squat foot, rubber tread on the bottom...'

Unfurl The Future! Huawei Mate X versus Galaxy Fold
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently from the top of the unit and immediately grew rigid.'

Amazon Echo And Google Home Should Have Morality Software
'The Dwoskin Morality Rating-Computer could 'spot the slightest tendency to deviation' from the social norm...'

China Building Robot Wives
'Want a life-companion, a pleasant one?'

China Social Credit System Like State-Run Whuffie
'At least there was no mandatory Whuffie check on the monorail platform...'

Project Soli Radar Gesture Chip Now FCC Approved
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.'

Stan, Robot Valet, Will Drag Your Car Away
'He activated the grapple tracks. '

Jibo Home Robot Says Goodbye, Is Killswitched
'It resembles an oyster....'

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.