Video: Chained robot can climb obstacles

Students at Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences in Germany have developed a pressure-sensitive chain-like robot that can adapt to the terrain it is crossing.

Named after the ancient Egyptian symbol Ouroboros, which depicts a serpent eating its own tail, Ourobot consists of twelve motorised segments that form a loop. The individual chain segments co-ordinate with each other using complex algorithms, allowing the robot to climb over obstacles in a straight line.

“At the moment Ourobot can only move straight ahead and cannot manage curves yet, but its sensors can detect obstacles, such as a book, and can traverse them,” said Jan Paskarbeit, one of the project supervisors from Bielefeld University.

(Credit: Bielefeld University)
(Credit: Bielefeld University)

In May, the four computer-engineering students behind Ourobot attended the international robot conference ICRA in Stockholm to discuss their work. Different iterations of the robot have also been tested, and the Ourobot project will continue to move forward at Bielefeld.

“We would like to develop a robot that actively changes its form, which can adapt to its environment like an amoeba, capable of stretching and shrinking again,” said Prof Axel Schneider, who also helped oversee the project.