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Many ground-based mobile robotic platforms exist today, but the majority of commercially available robots rely on one of two locomotion modalities: wheels and legs. Wheeled robots can traverse continuous terrain at great speed, but have difficulty navigating unstructured terrain and obstacles like stairs.


Legged robots can navigate both unstructured and man-made environments but exhibit limited robustness and locomotion speed. This proposal describes the development and optimization of a new type of robotic platform that combines advantages of both wheels and legs to enable robust, discontinuous terrain traversal at high speeds.


The Spheroidal, Actuated Exploration Ballistic Legged System (“Spaceballs”) platform is a spheroidal robotic platform with prismatic legs that enable the robot to perform both rolling locomotion via systematic, coordinated extension of each of its legs, as well as ballistic flight (jumping), enabled by impulsive extensions of an individual leg or multiple legs.


These disparate locomotion modalities will enable the robot to function over a variety of terrain types and in diverse environments.


As part of the system development process, the proposed work will also result in a high-fidelity simulation and sizing tool to select and define appropriate actuator parameters based on the intended use-case for a particular Spaceballs platform; designs for a novel general purpose, high-speed linear robotic actuator; and novel low-level and system behavior control methodologies for the Spaceballs platform.


Luna Walk Simulation - 1% Duty Cycle

Movie Simulation – 4 VCA 10% DC 10 EL

Movie Simulation – 1 VCA 1% DC Jumping Motion

Luna Walk Simulation - 10% Duty Cycle

Luna Walk Simulation - 50% Duty Cycle

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