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How Legged Robots are Walking from the Future to the Present

Legged robotics is a relatively new area of research with the intention of providing autonomous systems that are capable of navigation within extreme environments, difficult terrain and in the most complex of confined spaces. A few years ago the idea of such technology was still the realm of future aspirations, but such has been the success of cutting-edge research that today legged robots are very much a reality.

Reasons for using legged robots

Crawler robots are already in regular use within various industries around the globe and are especially useful in hostile environments where it’s hazardous for human entry. However, they have their limitations in that it’s a challenge when it comes to traversing extreme terrain, which is unstable, uneven, unstructured, steep or a combination of some or all of these. In addition, complex confined spaces such as those underground or within industrial structures are also an issue.

Legged robots that have the ability to navigate such elements and have sensors and navigational capabilities are the answer, and those developed are set to provide revolutionary improvements to industry on a global scale.

Leading robotics and autonomous systems group, CSORO Data61, is one of the world leaders in this area, with a selection of legged robots in different stages of development for various industry needs.

These include:

MAX – Multilegged Autonomous eXplorer

An ultra-light hexapod that measures 2.2 metres in height and weighs less than 60kg. The first of its kind, this 6-legged robot has been designed to be able to traverse very complex and difficult terrains. The height to weight ratio makes it 5 to 20 times lighter than any other similar legged robot available today of comparable size.

Zee – A hexapod robot for remote inspection

Inspection of assets within hazardous, remote and confined environments has long been a challenge in various industries, and the prototype legged robot, Zee, is being developed specifically with this in mind. Current models used for these tasks include wheeled and tracked robots. However, these are limited by their inability to traverse inaccessible areas. The hexapod is able to overcome such issues, carry customised inspection payloads and be operated with a regular tablet or smartphone.

Gizmo – a versatile hexapod robot

A small form robot designed for versatile inspection of confined spaces. Compact, yet with a payload of up to 2kg, Gizmo is small enough to be used to inspect the difficult to access, cramped areas, such as ceiling cavities and underfloor type spaces. Another useful application is that it runs from a Raspberry Pi computer so will be an excellent robotic educational tool as well.

Magento – a multi-limbed inspection robot

Inspection of internal industrial structures can be hugely challenging, with narrow, cluttered spaces making any type of aerial inspection impossible. The development of Magento, a magnetic foot climbing robot is the future of addressing such issues. The high flexibility of the limbs and the ability to traverse tight spaces, plus being able to switch from locomotion to inspection mode, makes this a very exciting development.

Whilst these legged robots are at different stages of development, the cutting edge technology will soon be realistically utilised to address asset inspection challenges in a variety of industries. Nexxis is at the forefront of technological equipment provision to industries including that of oil and gas, mining, subsea, infrastructure projects, machinery and more.

Far from being solely an equipment provider, our flexible approach sees us work with customers to discover bespoke solutions to individual needs, ensuring rapid and practical responses to changing requirements, thus reducing downtime and increasing baseline profits. To discover how the Nexxis difference could benefit your organisational needs to contact our team today.

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