Tiny spikes allow this robot to climb its way up steep slopes and grip onto rough surfaces
In Aaron Johnson’s “Robot Design & Experimentation” class at CMU, teams of students have a semester to design and build an experimental robotic system based on a theme. For spring 2019, that theme was “Bioinspired Robotics,” which is definitely one of our favorite kinds of robotics—animals can do all kinds of crazy things, and it’s always a lot of fun watching robots try to match them. They almost never succeed, of course, but even basic imitation can lead to robots with some unique capabilities.
One of the projects from this year’s course, from Team ScienceParrot, is a new version of RHex called T-RHex (pronounced T-Rex, like the dinosaur). T-RHex comes with a tail, but more importantly, it has tiny tapered toes, which help it grip onto rough surfaces like bricks, wood, and concrete. It’s able to climb its way up very steep slopes, and hang from them, relying on its toes to keep itself from falling off.