The purpose of this paper is to describe the development of a robot for surveillance able to move in structured and unstructured environments and able to overcome obstacles with high energetic efficiency.
The proposed Epi.q‐TG hybrid robot combines wheeled and legged locomotion. It is equipped with four three‐wheeled locomotion units; traction is generated by the two forecarriage units, while the two rear ones have same geometry but are idle. Each front unit is actuated by a single motor with the interposition of an epicyclical gearing, accurately designed in order to suitably switch between wheeled and legged motion. The robot changes locomotion mode from rolling on wheels (advancing mode) to stepping on legs (automatic climbing mode) according to local friction and dynamic conditions.
The experimental results confirm the design objectives. In advancing mode, the robot behaves like a four‐wheeled vehicle, with high speed and energetic efficiency. In automatic climbing mode, the robot can walk on uneven and soft terrains and overcome steps with remarkable height with respect to its dimensions (up to 84 per cent of the locomotion unit height).
Besides surveillance, Epi.q‐TG can be successfully used in many tasks in which it is useful to combine the advantages of wheeled and legged locomotion, e.g. unmanned inspection of nuclear and chemical sites, minesweeping, and intervention in disaster zones.
The core of the project is the epicyclical mechanism of the locomotion unit, which switches between advancing mode and automatic climbing mode without control action. This solution limits the control and actuation complexity and consequently the robot cost, widening the range of possible applications.
Quaglia, G., Bruzzone, L., Bozzini, G., Oderio, R. and Razzoli, R.P. (2011), "Epi.q‐TG: mobile robot for surveillance", Industrial Robot, Vol. 38 No. 3, pp. 282-291. https://doi.org/10.1108/01439911111122789
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