Beware, arachnophobes, the robots are coming for you!
What else would you be expected to think if you watched a hexapod robot display its best Transformers impression by turning into a wheel and pushing itself in your direction? The BionicWheelBot — developed by [Festo] — should rightly remind you of the cartwheeling Flic-Flac spider, the main inspiration for the robot. Of course, Star Wars fans might justifiably see a Droideka.
The BionicWheelBot can — almost — seamlessly transition between crawling around on six legs, to literally rolling away. To do so, its three pairs of legs sequentially fold up into a shape befitting its namesake and then pauses for a moment — almost for dramatic effect — before the real fun begins.
Once it’s balled up, it deploys two hitherto vestigial legs which push the BionicWheelBot on its merry way every rotation, steering all the while. These dual forms grant it the adaptive capacity to traverse multiple terrain types in a single outing. While not the first transforming robot — or rover, earthbound though some may be — we’ve seen, we certainly hope it isn’t the last!
[Thanks for the tip, Itay!]