Robots tend to come in just a few different configurations; wheeled rovers that drive like RC cars, SCARA robots that have a stationary base and reach within a work envelope, and drones that fly around. More exotic designs exist that wiggle around like snakes, or that walk on two, four, or more legs. But, it’s rare to see a robot like Rising STAR that can change the way it moves to adapt to different scenarios.
The simplest configuration is to ride around on four small wheels, and, like a car, that’s an extremely efficient way to cover a lot of ground — if that ground is nice and smooth. If the terrain is rough, Rising STAR can shift its “legs” to alter it’s center of gravity. Those legs have both the standard round wheels, and special star-shaped wheels for uneven and loose surfaces. Finally, if the ground is really loose, it can use the legs to shuffle along like a baby sea turtle trying to cross a beach.
This unique setup also makes it possible to perform impressive feats, such as climbing opposing vertical walls. Similar to a rock climber doing a chimney climb, Rising STAR can use its adjustable legs to push against the two walls and gain enough traction to drive straight up. Rising STAR’s creators, from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, think the little robot would be perfect for search and rescue operations where traditional robots would easily become stuck.