Getting around is no easy feat, unless you have six of them
When disaster strikes, who's first on the scene?
Emergency response teams often need to enter dangerous or confined spaces. But accessing unknown or unstable areas involves risk.
Our legged robots are designed to go where no other robot or human can easily access - for example, a collapsed building. These nifty bots are able to safely explore dangerous areas, for example, when searching for survivors, before sending in humans.
Introducing the legged robots
Our hexapods are modelled off insects with the same number and configuration of legs, like ants and cockroaches. The hexapods are programmed with different gaits inspired by their natural counterparts.
One of the most popular gaits, inspired by running ants and cockroaches, is called the "alternating tripod gait". The "waive gait", closer to a caterpillar's pattern, is slower but more stable. It's much more useful when navigating sloped or slippery terrain.
One of our hexapods, Weaver, has five joints on each of its six legs, enabling it to move freely and negotiate uneven terrain easily.
It is also fitted with a pair of stereo cameras, allowing it to create a digital elevation map of an area, and detect any physical obstacles in its path. Thanks to sensors in each of its leg joints, this nifty insect-like bot can measure the forces felt at its foot tips. When each foot touches the ground, it feeds this information on the ground conditions back through a sequence of algorithms.
In combination with its elevation map, the hexapod can interpret the stability of the surface and then adjust the stiffness of its legs as it travels. This allows the legged robot to avoid getting stuck or losing balance, by adjusting the flexibility of its leg joints depending on the roughness of the terrain.
Getting into those hard to reach spaces
We have been researching legged robots since 2012.
Robots just like Weaver are on the road to becoming helpers for emergency workers - as well as for those that require confined spaces to be inspected.
Our legged robots could be deployed to a wide range of applications - from emergency rescue operations, or rainforest monitoring - or even to aeroplane manufacturing, such as when inspecting the wing cavity of an aircraft.