A rocking and walking BEAM robot

We’ve seen a few minimalist robots in our time, but very few compare to [Thomas Rinsma]‘s amazingly agile BEAM robot. It’s absolutely fascinating to watch this little robot crawl around on its circular legs.

BEAM robots are extremely simple robots built without a microcontroller of any kind. The idea that extremely simple circuits built from logic chips and amplifiers came from the fruitful mind of [Mark Tilden] while studying insectoid robots at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The first BEAM robot – a small walker made out of a Sony Walkman – impressed a lot of mid-90s makers and tinkerers. Although interest in these robots died out, there are communities around the web for BEAM builders to get together and show off their creation.

Most BEAM robots use four to six legs as a means of locomotion. [Thomas]‘ robot only uses two metal rings to get around; an extremely simple design and also the most fluid gait we’ve seen from a BEAM robot. You can check out the video of [Thomas]‘ build walking around after the break.

Tip ‘o the hat to [mefeder] for sending this one in.

Comments

  1. DarkAnt says:

    How does it mechanically shifts its weight? The site only provides circuit diagrams.

    • c0derage says:

      Looks like the outer ring pivots side to side causing the body to roll to the opposite side. Pretty clever design.

    • Xiver1972 says:

      It looks like the bottom ring can only turn, while the top ring is hinged on the front and the back and twists instead of turns.

      When the top ring twists one way it slightly lifts the bottom ring and causes drag on the side that it is lifting. When the bottom ring twists in combination with the aforementioned it causes the movement.

  2. Arfink says:

    You might notice in the videos that the inner ring can only rotate while the outer ring can only tilt. Tilt the outer ring one way to push on the ground, and the inner rotating ring will also tilt with the body of the robot. Turn the inner ring to scoot along the ground, then switch sides, scoot again, and repeat.

    At least, that’s what it looks like in the video.

  3. Robot says:

    That’s a nice take on the two motor walker. . . it looks as if the walking gate is the same as the legged version; not including the nice turn in place feature. One problem with some BEAM walkers is that the legs can get out of phase over time causing the ‘bot to lean more and more until falling over. This seems to get around that problem nicely.

    – Robot

  4. When did interest in BEAM robotics “die out”? That’s the first time I’ve heard that.

  5. Rob R. says:

    Awesome robot!

    It’s kinda creepy how to moves, I love it!

    Keep up the good work Thomas!

  6. Thomas says:

    Hey Brian, Thomas here. Just found this post and wanted to tell you that you miscredited this work to me. These robots were made by my dad, Harm. My name is on his website because I made that site for him a long time ago.

    There’s also a previous post on here where you guys did get the name right :P
    http://hackaday.com/2009/11/17/beam-robot-tumbles-aimlessly/

    Thanks for the post though! I’m sure my dad loves the feedback.

    – Thomas

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