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The University of Bielefeld’s Department of Biological Cybernetics has unveiled a very cool looking new hexapod robot.  Despite its sleek futuristic appearance, HECTOR (which stands for HExapod Cognitive auTonmously Operating Robot) is essentially a meter long insect; its control program is based on the distributed intelligence principle found in insect brains.  Like an insect, its exoskeleton is extremely light and strong, making up only 13% of its total weight (12 kg [26 lbs]).  Developed and optimized in cooperation with the Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden, the carbon-fiber reinforced plastic shells deform less than 1mm under a 30kg (66 lb) load.  Its joints, too, are biologically-inspired; the uni’s Mechatronics of Biomimetic Actuators research group contributed a pair of state-of-the-art elastic joint drives, which are being used in each of HECTOR’s 20 degrees of freedom (6 legs x3, body segments x2).

“We want to raise this walking idea to a cognitive, intelligent level by bringing in ideas of planning, so the robot can plan ahead what it wants to do,” commented Dr. Axel Schneider.  “And reasoning when the robot, for example, is trapped in a hole in the ground or whatever; how it makes new plans to escape the situation.”  He and Prof. Dr. Josef Schmitz are the project managers, having previously worked together on another hexapod called TARRY.

HECTOR will be used to study advanced autonomous walking within CITEC and labs in Denmark, Germany, and Italy, as part of the EU-project EMICAB (Embodied Motion Intelligence for Cognitive, Autonomous Robots).  The robot will be learning to walk and navigate autonomously in the near future, so for now all we can do is watch its official unveiling in the video below.

The same uni brought us the modular FloBi humanoid head.  Although we tend to focus on humanoids here at Plastic Pals, we like cool robot designs like this.  If you do too, you may also be interested in checking out fuRo’s Hallucigenia-I and Halluc-II which feature a unique hybrid wheel-leg design.


Video (Project Unveiling) (Mirror):


[source: Bielefeld U. HECTOR press release]