Robotics

Two-wheeled, two-legged robot rolls and jumps

Two-wheeled, two-legged robot ...
Ascento's legs bend independently, allowing it to stay level on uneven terrain
Ascento's legs bend independently, allowing it to stay level on uneven terrain
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Ascento's legs bend independently, allowing it to stay level on uneven terrain
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Ascento's legs bend independently, allowing it to stay level on uneven terrain
Ascento is designed primarily for indoor use
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Ascento is designed primarily for indoor use

While legged robots are able to perform feats such as climbing stairs, their wheeled counterparts are faster and less complex. The Ascento robot offers the best of both worlds, as it has two jumping legs – each one with a wheel on the bottom.

Developed by a team of engineering students at Switzerland's ETH Zurich research institute, Ascento is now in its second incarnation, called Ascento 2. The first version was unveiled last year.

When cruising along level floors, the self-balancing robot utilizes its two hub-motor-powered wheels. Once it encounters a vertical obstacle such as a set of stairs, however, it crouches down to preload its spring-equipped legs, then jumps up and forward. In this fashion, it's able to ascend the stairs, one by one.

Ascento is designed primarily for indoor use
Ascento is designed primarily for indoor use

Along with giving it the ability to jump, though, Ascento's legs also allow it to stay upright on uneven terrain. They do so by bending at their linkage points independently of one another, keeping the robot's main body level at all times. With the latest version's new-and-improved "brain," this leg-bending feature additionally lets the robot keep from falling over when struck from the side.

And while Ascento can be remotely controlled, it is able to operate autonomously, utilizing cameras and other sensors to both navigate and 3D-map its surroundings.

Specs-wise, it tips the scales at 10.4 kg (22.9 lb), has a top wheel-rolling speed of 8 km/h (5 mph), a maximum jumping height of 0.4 m (1.3 ft), and can run for approximately 1.5 hours on one charge of its battery pack.

Ascento 2 was unveiled this week, via the online ICRA 2020 robotics conference. The robot can be seen in jumping and rolling action, in the following video.

Source: ETH Zurich

This is Ascento 2

8 comments
paleochocolate
It would be great if it can be programmed to walk too
guzmanchinky
Someday AI will see hockey sticks as symbols of their oppression.
Username
I would have liked to see it climb a normal staircase.Regardless, if it can follow me around and make silly noises, I want one!
Fastship
If only the Daleks had had this technology.
Eddy
Appears more suitable for corridor type delivery use than Boston Dynamics heavier 4 legged robot.
Troublesh00ter
Very impressive. The only thing I would wonder is whether a three- or four-footed robot would be more efficient, in that it would use less energy to balance. If, however, the balancing algorithm and associated battery usage proved to be minimal, then this approach may have a considerable future ahead of it!
Nelson Hyde Chick
Seems like a toy with no real use, a solution looking for a problem.
steve jun
Whoa! This is INCREDIBLE