IMPASS Robot 'Smart Wheel' Video

Take a look at this impressive video showing IMPASS, the Intelligent Mobility Platform with Active Spoke System developed at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

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(IMPASS Intelligent Mobility Platform with Active Spoke System )

The spoke wheel concept "allows multiple modes of motion, which give it the ability to stride quickly using one contact point per wheel, walk with static stability with two contact points per wheel, or assume a stable stance using three contact points per wheel."
(Read more about IMPASS)

Science fiction fans have seen this idea before. Neal Stephenson, in his 1992 novel Snow Crash, writes about what he calls smart wheels and puts them on skateboards:

Smart wheels use sonar, laser range finding and millimeter wave radar to identify mufflers and other debris. Each one consists of a hub with many tiny spokes. Each spoke telescopes into five sections. On the end is a squat foot, rubber tread on the bottom, swiveling on a ball joint. As the wheel rolls, the feet plant themselves one at a time, almost glomming into one continuous tire...
(Read more about Neal Stephenson's smart wheels)

Learn more about the IMPASS robot.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/4/2010)

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