Rapidly running arthropods like cockroaches make use of passive dynamics to achieve remarkable locomotion performance with regard to stability, speed, and maneuverability. In this work, we take inspiration from these organisms to design, fabricate, and control a 10cm, 24 gram underactuated hexapedal robot capable of running at 14 body lengths per second and performing dynamic turning maneuvers. Our design relies on parallel kinematic mechanisms fabricated using the scaled smart composite microstructures (SCM) process and viscoelastic polymer legs with tunable stiffness. In addition to the novel robot design, we present experimental validation of the lateral leg spring (LLS) locomotion model's prediction that dynamic turning can be achieved by modulating leg stiffness. Finally, we present and validate a leg design for active stiffness control using shape memory alloy and demonstrate the ability of the robot to execute near-gymnastic 90° turns in the span of five strides.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/aaron_hoover/1/