The challenge

Getting around is no easy feat, unless you have six of them

Emergency response teams often need to enter dangerous or confined spaces. But accessing unknown or unstable areas involves a high-degree of risk.

Our legged robots are designed to go where no other robot or human can easily access, such as a collapsed building. These nifty bots are able to safely explore and assess confined and hazardous areas, to perform reconnaissance, identify degrees of structural damage, and execute maintenance.

Our response

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.

Our hexapod Weaver can navigate the toughest of terrains all on its own.

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 agile insect-like bot can measure the forces felt at its foot tips. When each foot touches the ground, it feeds this information 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.

Gizmo is Data61's newest bot - a small, smooth hexapod designed for versatility and compact spaces. One of Gizmo's motivating applications is the inspection and mapping of ceiling and floor cavities, as often required in the construction and mining fields, where some areas are too difficult or unsafe for humans to reach.

Gizmo is equipped with state-of-the-art servo motors that are compact yet strong enough to carry a payload of up to 2kg in hard-to-access areas. The robot's small form, easy-to-control interface and the fact that it runs off a Raspberry Pi computer - a computer running on the easy-to-learn script Python - makes it an ideal platform for robotics education as well.

a six legged robot dances

Gizmo showing off some moves

The results

Getting into those hard to reach spaces

Legged robot on an incline in outdoors environment

Ain't no mountain high enough for these legged robots.  ©CSIRO, Navinda Kottege

Robots like Weaver and Gizmo are on the road to being deployed in emergency situations and enhancing a range of processes within the construction and mining industries.

In the last six years, our suite of legged robots have been designed for a range of applications, from emergency rescue operations to rainforest monitoring and aeroplane manufacturing, such as when inspecting the wing cavity of an aircraft.

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