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Japanese robot cannot only walk but also roller-skate

By Bart B. Van Bockstaele     Sep 10, 2007 in Technology
A Japanese robotics lab has created a robot capable of dealing with different types of terrain while keeping it small and light. They did so by using a combination of legs and wheels, but the real surprise is the way the robot moves: by skating.
Its official name is "Roller-Walker," and that it is exactly what it does: roll and walk. This peculiar robot has four legs that enable it to walk across different types of terrain. On flat and smooth surfaces, it can rotate its feet –which happen to be wheels- by 90 degrees in order do enable them to roll.
These wheels are not driven directly by motors. Instead, the legs are continuously spread out and drawn in, causing it to move, not unlike what human roller skaters often do. The movements the robot makes while skating are not only graceful but they enable it also to move faster than when it is walking, not that this speed is very high. Tests show it to have a speed of less than 3km/hour.
According to the creators, the Hirose-Fukushima Robotics Lab of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, this design uses largely the same actuators for walking and skating. This enables them to keep the dimensions of the robot down and it also allows for a relatively light weight of 24kg.
If the design will ever have (large-scale) practical uses remains to be seen but it surely is nice to look at.
More about Roller-walker, Hirose-fukushima robotics, Skating
 
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