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 ")

BladeBUG Robots Clean Massive Wind Turbine Blades
'There were the cleaners, with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length...' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1972.

IceBot Antarctic (Planetary?) Robotic Explorers Made Of Ice
'Some will combine in place to form more complicated structures, like excavators or centipedes.' - Greg Bear, 2015

Study: Robots Encourage Humans To Take Risks
Not exactly Three Laws compliant.

Best Robot Dance Video Of 2020
'I can Mashed Potato... I can do the Twist.' - Chubby Checker, 1961

 

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

DALL-E Makes Creative Images From Text
Okay, sf fans. If you could have some art created from a science fiction sentence, what sentence would you pick?

BladeBUG Robots Clean Massive Wind Turbine Blades
'There were the cleaners, with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length...'

Looms To Manually Weave Lunar Rover Wheels
It's fascinating to me how the Apollo program forced people to think outside their usual boxes.

IceBot Antarctic (Planetary?) Robotic Explorers Made Of Ice
'Some will combine in place to form more complicated structures, like excavators or centipedes.'

Glad 2020 Is Over
Maybe you missed one of these?

PEDOT Polymer Could Enhance Brain-Machine Interfaces
'the hair-fine wire going deep into Owen's brain, down into the pleasure center.'

Study: Robots Encourage Humans To Take Risks
Not exactly Three Laws compliant.

Kinetic Buildings And Psychotropic Houses
'There was a dim whirring, and the spheres tipped and began to rotate...'

Jupe Urban Escape Pods Have Tesla, SpaceX Roots
'The houses are prefabricated units... and they sell at the flat rate of five hundred dollars a room set up.'

Best Robot Dance Video Of 2020
'I can Mashed Potato... I can do the Twist.'

Vertical Farm In Singapore's Output Is 1.5 Tons Per Day
'A towering eighty-story structure like the office "In-and-Out" baskets stacked up to the sky.'

3D Printed 'Blisk' Manufactured In Orbit
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

Comercial Airlock 'Bishop' Now On ISS
'They put the bones and the glass can that had contained the soup into the double-doored partition or vestibule...'

Space Station Could Use Some Martian Sawgrass
'What better purifying machine is there than a plot of grass?'

ARTUu AI Copilot For USAF
'A series of short beep's and chirps issued from his speaker...'

Smellicopter Combines Live Moth Antenna With Mechanical Drone
'The organic tissue is inserted in the master tank and then sealed.'

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.