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Asterisk robot learns to climb, carry, and cartwheel

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Osaka University researchers have made further developments to the Asterisk robot, which was first shown back in 2005. The spider- and insect-inspired robot can now climb, cartwheel and even carry objects.

via <a href="https://img.skitch.com/20111214-qhgdrfignnr9spct6jwnxbdkgq.png">img.skitch.com</a>
via img.skitch.com

We've seen the Asterisk robot a few times before — it's been in development since 2005 — but the spider and insect-inspired design has proved pretty versatile over the years. This has meant that the researchers behind it from Osaka University have been able to teach it plenty of new tricks. As well as retaining its agility in climbing over objects or losing height to go travel underneath obstacles, the robot can now climb a wire grid, hang from the roof (and drop and swing on a wire just like a spider), carry objects on top of its central platform, and even turn cartwheels. This versatility largely comes from the stability of the legs, which can balance the robot at all times when used in threes.

Professor Arai, who leads the Asterisk team in Osaka, says that the robot was originally designed for use in rescue missions following disasters — something that's been brought to the forefront since the Japanese earthquake and ensuing Fukushima nuclear fallout earlier this year. It's not the only robot inspired by nature — Fraunhofer's spider and the Mondo Spider both draw from fear-inducing inspiration too — so It looks like the arachnid android arms race is on.