After accepting to take on the US in a robot fight, Japan once again delivers the autonomous goods with the QRoSS: a robot that can be thrown, rolled and tossed as a ball, but can then convert to a quadrupedal walker.

The Chiba Institute of Technology showed the robot off at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on
Intelligent Robots and Systems. “QRoSS” stands for Quadruped Walking Robot With Spherical Shell, and and an apt name it is. The fragile walking systems of the QRoSS are protected from a completely separate shell that encases it and absorbs impacts. The hope of this design is that rescue personal can simply chuck the poor ‘bot into a disaster area, let it bounce around a bit, and then begin to walk when it has stopped.

qross-robot-ball-diagram
The current version of the QRoSS weighs around 2.5 kilograms. The sphere is around 30 cm in diameter. Each leg has three servos.

When not acting as a shield, the sphere can also be used get around. While the legs can only scuttle around at 0.1 m/s (0.36 km/h), while rolling around as a ball gets to almost 0.6 m/s (2.16 km/h).

Now where have we seen this all before? You may recall the Droidekas from the Star Wars prequels. While the prequels are almost universally hated, robotics fans the world over fell in love with the tough droids that arrived on the battlefield as balls, only to transform into deadly weapons platforms.

There’s a video to demonstrate the rolling and walking in action.

While the QRoSS is only on its second iteration, and needs a lot more development time, we need to know when the forcefields are installed so we can send them to hunt Jedi.

[Source – IEEE Spectrum, Image – Star Wars Wiki]