Hexapode (Walking Robot)

    There are many wheels, but few feet, in the field of non-living transportation modes. Feet or legs have the undeniable advantage of being able to produce movement in any direction where a next step can be taken. In contrast, the mechanical field uses wheels to move from one area to another. There is no biological equivalent here and wheels allow great distances to be covered at a low energy cost. However, there are several situations where a wheel cannot adequately adapt to overcome an obstacle and these situations have motivated the development of the Hexapod Robot.

    Biomimetics is an approach which attempts to solve problems by adopting solutions which are found in nature. Insects are among the lifeforms which are best adapted to their environment: they are found in all temperate regions of the globe. Despite their small size, their possibilities are enormous. The ant has served as a model for the walking robot under development here. The ant has an excellent morphology: small, agile and strong, which is well-suited to address the criteria of robotics.

    Fig. 1: The morphology of the ant has served as a model for the Hexapode Robot.

    Hexapod is a walking robot with six feet. The development of this robot has enabled the theoretical study and experimental design of concepts leading to a stable and efficient means of walking. The Hexapod project is a mechatronics endeavour, i.e. an engineering example of combining notions of mechanics, electronics and computer science.

    More specifically, the definition of a support and feedback polygon enables a suitable management of stability. The static equilibrium of the robot was achieved so as to reduce energy consumption. Hierachical programming was used in the controler and Hexapode and this programming manages movements, operational sequences and decision-making to allow the robot to react appropriately to the environment in which it evolves.

    Space applications can be envisioned for Hexapod, such as the exploration of Mars or the Moon or the construction of planetary bases. Terrestrial applications are also possible. For example, Hexapode could acquire data or collect biological samples deep in the forest or search sites of catastrophies to locate survivors without exposing rescue workers to dangerous situations. This robot could also be used domestically as its appearance is somewhat user-friendly.

    Fig. 2: CAD Model of the Hexapod Robot.
    Fig. 3: Picture of the Hexapod Robot.


    A poster was prepared in 2004 and can be downloaded with the PDF file below.

    Video clip