THINKING MACHINES A rover that changes shape to navigate rough terrain might use artificial intelligence.
Watch the brand new 2-minute movie of the Tet Warfighter in action
...Steven Curtis designing a more ambitious rover. It does not have wheels. Instead, it looks like a shape-changing jungle gym, with trusses that lengthen and shorten. A simple prototype has been built.
Computer animations illustrate its possibilities. Across flat terrain, it would roll like tumbleweed.
How does the Tet Warfighter think? See Sandia National Laboratory talk on the Neural Basis Function Synthetic Neural System and Autonomy (October 2011)
Here is the 12-Tet extending itself onto a rock.
The 12-Tet Rover is one of ANTS' biggest current projects. It is 12 tetrahedrons made of 26 struts (thin, extendable, metal rods) that will roam all over Mars' complex terrain. Unlike the current wheeled rovers, it will be autonomous, so it will not require instruction from a whole team of scientists to complete a simple task. It will recognize obstacles and figure out how to get around them. It has a huge advantage over wheeled rovers because it does not require flat ground to operate properly. Rather than use wheels, it extends its struts and tumbles forward. It is a complicated type of movement to explain, and is best demonstrated in video on the right. Check it out!
ANTS is an acronym for Autonomous Nano-Technology Swarm. ANTS technology builds on and advances recent trends in robotics, artificial intelligence, and materials processing to minimize costs and maximize effectiveness of space operations.
A tetrahedron is a pyramid with three sides and a base. The tetrahedral pyramid shape is a fundamentally stable structure and the simplest space-filling solid.
The short answer is by moving the center of mass in a direction just off to the side of a target in the direction of a tetrahedral side until the tetrahedron tips over in that direction, and then moving the center of mass in the direction of an adjacent tetrahedral side just off to the other side of the target until the tetrahedron tips over in the other direction. The center of mass is moved off-center by lengthening and tilting above ground struts in the direction of alternating adjacent sides, creating a flip/flop motion.
The tetrahedral structure allows the walker to reconfigure itself into almost any shape, including snakes, arms, and satellite dishes.