Urban reconnaissance scenarios are extremely dangerous, particularly when entering buildings where no prior intelligence information may be available. The ways that reconnaissance missions are run currently involves sending out security personnel to specific locations, there is some use of fixed sensors, and more recently use of robotic vehicles in order to collect information. However, the fixed morphologies of currently adopted robotic platforms highly restrict the types of terrain that these robots can navigate.
To this end, we are developing Scorpio, a state of the art bio-inspired self-reconfigurable robot capable of rolling, crawling, and wall climbing locomotion as a means to traverse highly complex unstructured terrains. Our source of inspiration is Cerebrenus Rechenburgi, a species of huntsman spider found only in the deserts of Morocco which in addition to crawling and wall climbing like any other spider species propels itself off the ground and moves its legs in a flic-flac somersault motion to go uphill, downhill or on level ground. In terms of design, we have six primary iterations so far pushing the technological limits in the areas of self-reconfigurable robotics, energy-aware behaviours, shape-shifting mechanisms, and terrain perception. In addition to 2D room mapping and obstacle avoidance features, Scorpio’s software architecture uses a fusion of colour, texture and orientation information to evaluate the terrain, classify it based on a set of pre-defined terrain types, and make an appropriate decision on the choice of morphology.
Transformer robots have always fascinated us in both movies and dreams. However, most robots in the market are of fixed morphologies, lacking reconfigurable features and the associated creative applications. This leads our design team in designing a highly versatile pioneering class of reconfigurable robot, Scorpio. The platform is equipped with 12 servo motors and onboard sensors, which enables it to self-reconfigure and perform a wide range of creative bioinspired motions such as crawling on flat areas and rolling over slopes. Potential applications include security, surveillance, reconnaissance, inspection, entertainment, and education.