A new robot meant to handle search-and-rescue operations has adjustable wheels that allow it to reposition itself to deal with changing conditions. The Rising Sprawl-Tuned Autonomous Robot (RSTAR) can switch between moving over flat surfaces, climbing large obstacles and walls, and crawling through tunnels, pipes and narrow gaps.
"The RSTAR is ideal for search and rescue operations in unstructured environments, such as collapsed buildings or flooded areas, where it must adapt and overcome a variety of successive obstacles to reach its target," says David Zarrouk of the Israeli Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, which built the RSTAR, in a .
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The bot was presented at the 2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Brisbane, Australia. The "Sprawl" in its name comes from the robot's legs. The RSTAR's legs are adjusted downwards and away from the body, but can be adjusted to change the robot's center of mass. When a robot can change its center of mass, it becomes more varied in the tasks it can perform and the movements it can achieve.
"By moving its center of mass to the front, RSTAR can climb over steeper inclines without flipping over. RSTAR can also climb vertically in pipe-like environments and even crawl horizontally by pressing its wheels to the walls without touching the floor," Zarrouk during the conference.
The RSTAR comes from Zarrouk's family of STAR robots, which are also built for rescue operations. He says: "In a genuine search and rescue operation, a robot often must overcome multiple successive obstacles of different types to reach its target. We built RSTAR having in mind that it should be simple, reliable and that it should be able to overcome multiple commonly available obstacles without any external mechanical intervention."