A robot that can transform into a wheel-leg robot
Researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute have created OmniWheg – a robotic system which can change its configuration as it navigates its environment. It seamlessly changes from a wheeled robot to a legged one. This robot is based on a pre-published IEEE IROS 2022 article, which introduces an updated version of \”whegs\”, a series mechanisms designed to transform a robotic robot’s wings or wheels into legs.
\”Quadruped and biped robots have been growing in popularity, and the reason for that might be the search for ‘anthropomorphization’ that the general audience commonly engages in,\” Prof. Andre Rosendo, one of the researchers who developed the robot, told TechXplore. While the idea of being able to go anywhere sounds exciting, it is not worth the energy cost. Humans have legs as evolution has given us them. But we would never create a \”legged car\” because we know it wouldn’t be comfortable or as energy-efficient as a wheeled vehicle.
Rosendo’s recent work is based on the idea that, while legs can make robots seem more human or animal-like, they may not be the best solution for completing tasks quickly and efficiently. The team decided to develop a robot that could switch between multiple locomotion mechanisms, rather than a robot that had a single mechanism.