Sony Group Corporation announced on December 16 that it has developed a robot capable of stable and high-efficiency locomotion across uneven terrain. The robot has a six-legged wheel configuration that consists of six-leg structures with wheel actuators. For flat surfaces, the robot uses only the wheels whereas, for ground with a height difference, the robot uses both wheels and legs. Incidentally, Sony exhibited a similar-looking model at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems 2021.
The wheel configuration under the robot allows the robot to use both wheeled locomotions using the wheel actuators and the legged locomotion used by the six alternating legs. The use of the dual configuration allows for a faster locomotion and efficient traversal while also maintaining the initial speed while moving even on uneven surfaces. Moreover, the six-legged configuration ensures that the robot maintains three points of contact with the ground at all times.
The design of the Sony robot allows the robot to distribute the total load on the legs and the motors. The robot is capable of transporting heavy loads up to 20 kg. Not only that, the mechanism of the robot ensures that the robot uses the minimum amount of energy to support the robot when it is standing still. These basic features of the robot could help it to be utilized in transporting heavy loads while also carrying out various monitoring tasks.
Some of the special features of the robot include the Sony original whole-body cooperative control system, automatic avoidance behaviors which minimize shock. Sony is hoping to improve the autonomous locomotion capabilities of the robot in the future, while also ensuring a stable control.
Moreover, the Sony robot comes equipped with an electric double-layer capacitor or EDLC which not only decreases the size of the battery but also enables peak current provision. Sony is aiming to come up with a more compact and lightweight version of this robot in the future.