The first time we saw Zenta Robotics Creations' bluntly-named morphing hexapod MorpHex was in August of last year. Back then, it wasn't much more than a collection of exposed servos and circuits with six agile legs. Designed to "be like a sphere--capable of freely moving in any direction--with a different type of locomotion for getting around," the MorpHex was kind of unsettling looking.
These days, it has a plastic carapace and an alternate form of locomotion. Not only is it capable of prancing about on six legs, the MorpHex can now transform itself into a ball and roll about on horizontal surfaces. Unlike organic insect-like things, the MorpHex is rather adept at staying grounded--if it finds itself on its back, it's capable of wriggling about until it rights itself again.
This isn't the end for the MorpHex, by the way. According to the video, a future version will feature a symmetric design that will allow the MorpHex to roll in any direction it desires.
Featuring an ARC-32 micro controller, more than 25 servos, an Xbee module and a Razor DOF IMU running AHRS code for accurate orientation when the hexapod is in sphere mode, the MorpHex is all kinds of awesome. All they need to do now is to get it to say "Roll out!" in Optimus Prime's voice every time it turns into a little ball and life will be perfect.
Cassandra Khaw is an entry-level audiophile, a street dancer, a person who writes about video games for a living, and someone who spends too much time on Twitter.
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This story, "Mighty morphing hexapod MorpHex robot can now rock and roll" was originally published by PCWorld.