Every robot designer and experimenter faces design trade-offs. For example, should our robot have legs, or wheels, or even tank tractor treads? Most of us don't even consider the possibility of designing a robot that incorporates the best from several different design approaches. But Ionitron, an inspiring robot developer from Spain, did exactly that, and created a really amazing robot - the X-VEAAT.
Ionitron, also known as Daniel C. Marin of Barcelona, saw the basic limitations of most wheeled robots - they do fine in the lab, but don't deal with real world obstacles very well, if at all.
At the same time he realized that robots that walk on legs tend to be unstable and usually present balance and useful load capacity problems.
So, he took on the challenge to develop a wheeled robot that also had legs, and came up with the X-perimental Vehicle Explorer Adaptable All Terrain robot or X-VEAAT for short.
X-VEAAT, as you can see from the images and video below, is extremely flexible. It can literally 'turn on a dime), move sideways, stretch, tilt, lift its legs totally independently, get so low it looks like it's trying to dance the Limbo, and even lay on its belly and lift its legs in the air.
X-VEAAT's flexibility and movements are really amazing
The robot combines the best of legged and wheeled motion in one design
The robot is currently controlled by PC software developed by Ionitron
Here's what it looks like in action-
We asked Ionitron to share a bit about his background and the X-VEAAT's evolution, and here is what he had to say:
"I have been involved in electronics for about 14 years, and with robotics for the past 5 years. My website, http://www.x-robotics.com, was created to share many of my projects with the hope that it might help or inspire other people to experiment with electronics and robotics.
At the moment, I don't work in the electronics or robotics field professionally, but my passion for it continues to evolve and grow because I learn continuously and discover many ingenious things in a very short time.
The X-VEAAT robot concept occurred to me several years ago. I thought about putting legs on a car to raise its wheels off the ground. To give it the ability to conquer obstacles that ordinary car designs can't handle.
I wanted to design and construct a robot to make this idea a reality. A robot with four legs, each with two joints - with wheels instead of feet, able to lift and turn on its feet. As a result, the novel and versatile mechanism used in my robot was created.
Now I am developing an autonomous navigation system for the robot. It will allow automatic navigation, vision, obstacle recognition, and other features. Of course, I still have a lot of work to make it a reality. At the present time, X-VEAAT operates using a special control program designed for it."
Note: We translated this from Spanish, so any errors or mistakes are probably due to our poor command of the language.
In addition to all the great information on X-VEAAT, ionitron's website also includes a lot of detailed information on sensors, interfacing, design of reverse kinematic linkages, and use of the PIC microprocessor. He even runs a online robotics discussion forum.
X-Robotics Website - the website is in Spanish, but is very easy to understand from the graphics and images. To see the detailed X-VEAAT section click on the robot's large image on the X-Robotics homepage.