Video of the Day: Shape-shifting robot navigates obstacles

Researchers from the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences have developed “Ourobot” — a robot that looks a lot like a bicycle chain, but has just twelve segments about the size of a fist, each equipped with a motor.

Ourobot is the name of the new robot. It was developed by (from left) Prof. Dr. Axel Schneider, Johann Schröder, Adrian Gucze, Matthäus Wiltzok, Simon Beyer and Jan Paskarbeit. (Image Credit: Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences)
The team with Ourobot. (Image Credit: Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences)

“Ourobot” contains pressure sensors in its chain segments which enable it to detect and overcome obstacles.

“At the moment Ourobot can only move straight ahead and cannot manage curves yet, but its sensors can detect obstacles, such as a book, and can traverse them”, said Jan Paskarbeit, one of the students who helped develop the bot. The control mechanism behind the robot involves a complex mathematical tasks.

Currently there is no application set for the robot, but the team will continue to study the working of the robot and the team admits there is a long way to go, however, the project supervisors’ vision is to take the robot, which works in two dimensions “into the third dimension.”.

“We would like to develop a robot that actively changes its form, which can adapt to its environment like an amoeba, capable of stretching and shrinking again”, said Dr. Axel Schneider, who led the work. “In this way, Ourobot can move through narrow terrain and overcome obstacles by means of different movements.”


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