When it comes to modern robotics, the design philosophy is mostly based on functionality rather than aesthetics. This is the reason why we haven’t seen more robots that look like humans.
Another reason for the unconventional designs of these robots is that current technology isn’t advanced enough to make sure that robots with limbs can easily maneuver obstacles without getting stuck.
So when the team from Germany’s Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences decided to build a robot, they too decided to choose an unconventional design that would instead focus more on navigation.
The robot they developed with this goal is called the Ourobot, which derives it’s name from Ouroboros, an ancient Egyptian symbol of a serpent curled around in a circle, consuming its own tail.
The reason for choosing such a peculiar inspiration is because it is exactly what the design of the robot is based on, 12 linked segments that move in a circle.
Each segment contains an individual motor along with a pressure sensor. The sensors are responsible for detecting the obstacles in front of the robot, while the motors work together to navigate those obstacles.
In order to traverse those obstacles, the robot flattens itself and then climbs over the object just like the tracks of a tank would do.
This way it doesn’t have to worry about balancing itself over unpredictable terrains. Once that is done, it can easily resume it’s wheel like shape.
In the current iteration, this is the extent of this robot’s capabilities. But the team is still working on trying to find ways of incorporating other features into the design. All we have to do is wait and watch.