The particle robot is inspired by two simple organisms which are very similar but exist at different scales: in the macro-organism-scale, the biological sea urchins and from the micro-organism-scale by the rotaviruses, together with spherical mobile robots.
The sea urchin consists of a round shaped body with long spines that come off it. The spines are used for multiple purposes, such as protection and to move about in the water. On the other hand, spherical mobile robots embed a special morphology with multiple advantages such as protection from their outer shell and smooth motion with good power efficiency .
Viruses exist in the realm of nanometers and can be found in different shapes such as ”worms” like the Ebola virus, or more common shapes like wheels with ”legs”, i.e., HIV, influenza, corona-virus, among others. The rotavirus type resemble a ”wheel” (rotain Latin) which can rotate and extend/compressthe ”legs” (Hemagglutinin and Neuraminidase) for connecting and propelling itself in the cell’s 3D space.
This research explores the possibility to integrate in a common shell, a spherical mobile robot and an actuated exoskeleton in order to improve the robot's dynamics, locomotion methods and adaptability to different terrains. Whether, based on the spherical mobile robots, soft robotics and highly compressible linear actuators state-of-the-art, it is possible to create a new specie of robot with novel locomotion methods, able to reconfigure itself to swim, move on snow or sand, pass over obstacles and even jump by contracting or extending its spines.
Unlike previous works, to emphasize the uniqueness of the presented robotic setup, a renewed articulated rack and pinion gearbox enables the exoskeleton’s actuation system to fit in a constrained space in between the exoskeleton sphere and the inner mobile spherical robot, while having a good extension ratio, speed and force. If compared to latest developments on linear actuators .