The Rising STAR robot uses wheels to roll around and its weighted head can keep the robot balanced, which allows it to climb up and over steep surfaces.
The Rising STAR is an upgrade to David Zarrouk's original sprawl-tuned autonomous robot (STAR), RSTAR has an added degree of freedom: its body can move separately from its legs. It does sound crazy, but this wee bot can do things people only dream of.
The latest in a series of sprawling robots from Zarrouk, a professor at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, RSTAR's latest functionality alters its centre of mass, enabling advanced behaviours.
"Not only can the robot climb over larger obstacles without flipping over, but it can also climb vertically up closely spaced walls and 'crawl' through narrow gaps by adopting a legged walking gait," according to a report by IEEE Spectrum.
Zarrouk, who is the director of Ben-Gurion’s Bio-inspired and Medical Robotics Laboratory, has led the creation of several unique designs, including a single-motor steerable android and a multi-joined cyborg arm, powered by a travelling motor.
In May, he presented Rising STAR at the 2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Brisbane.
"We were looking to increase the capabilities of STAR in overcoming obstacles by adding a simple mechanism with one motor," Zarrouk told the IEEE Spectrum. "We quickly converged to the concept of extending the distance between the wheels to the body."
That so-called "sprawl" allows for the robot's legs to be angled (adjustably) downward and outward from the body, which is a simple yet highly effective change.
Just two months after unveiling their next-gen machine, the team is already eyeing additional upgrades, including the use of machine learning algorithms to teach simple manoeuvres.
In the future, Zarrouk hopes to put the STAR family of robots to work, performing search and rescue operations, "especially in unstructured environments such as collapsed buildings or flooded areas," he said.
"We built RSTAR having in mind that it should be simple, reliable," Zarrouk continued, "and that it should be able to overcome multiple commonly available obstacles without any external mechanical intervention."
You can see for yourself in Zarrouk’s video, which highlights RSTAR's abilities.