Remember the Minitaur? It’s a cute, bounding robot created by Ghost Robotics that can dash up stairs, climb chainlink fences, open office doors, and gambol about on its four legs like a mechanical lamb. Now the little fella has taken a trip into the wilderness, showing that four legs give it a definite edge over its wheeled peers when it comes to navigating tricky terrain.
Minitaur was already pretty impressive; now, with a couple updates, it’s even more so, as this video shows. The bot uses its newly adjustable gait to adapt to pretty much any surface. The updated Minitaur can pick its way across rocks, traverse overgrown, greasy banks without stumbling, and leap like a gymnast. This last move is particularly impressive: The robot kicks its back legs to flip itself into a handstand, and then springs from its arms over an almost two-foot gap. Minitaur can also squat down to walk under obstacles and deal with slippery ice, although it skitters and slides like the best of us as it crosses.
Legged robots like Minitaur are not only better at getting themselves across any kind of terrain, they’re also better than wheeled or flying robots at getting themselves out of trouble. Speaking to IEEE Spectrum, Ghost Robotics’ CEO Jiren Parikh said that Minitaur’s legs give it much more freedom to spin and extricate itself when it gets stuck. They even beat out tracked robots.
“In scenarios such as sand and mudflats, tracked devices do well up to the point of getting stuck,” said Parikh, “but they have limited options for escape, whereas the Minitaur will have greater maneuverability and escape behaviors.”
If you’re ever unlucky enough to get one of these little go-everywhere bots on your tail, “limited options for escape” are exactly what you’ll have. And if you really want to experience fear, just wait until the video’s surprise ending.