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QRoSS Round Robot Rolls Along, Then Sprouts Legs to Walk

There are robots that walk, and robots that roll, but this one does both.
Chiba Institute of Technology / YouTube

There are robots out there walking quite happily on two legs and on four, and there are even ones like Sphero and BB-8 that roll along. But this one devised by Japanese researchers does both. QRoSS has a quadrupedal walking system completely enclosed by a spherical metal cage, and it can be tossed or rolled along the floor as easily as any other ball. When it senses that it has come to a stop, four legs unfold and bring it upright, then allow it to walk along the ground.

There's no "up" for QRoSS: As the researchers demonstrate in this video, its legs will go just as easily one way as the other.

Such a robot could be helpful in disaster areas, where it could be thrown over detritus and only begin walking once it has come to a halt. Or soldiers could roll it into a room before entering, walking it around to make sure everything's safe inside.

QRoSS is still very experimental, though, so don't expect to find it at a toy store or on Kickstarter any time soon. The device was created at the Chiba Institute of Technology and presented earlier this month at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Hamburg, Germany.

Hat tip: IEEE Spectrum