Weird Robot Could Be The Future Of Animatronics, Or Totally Useless [VIDEO]

By Ben Wolford on April 18, 2014 3:30 PM EDT

Developers of the MopHex say it's just a hobby robot, but it's pretty cool anyway. (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube)

Developers of the MorpHex say it's just a hobby robot, but it's pretty cool anyway. (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube)

It looks like it could be an instrument of world domination, but the developers of the MorpHex say it's really just a hobby robot. "The main goal of this project was to make a hexapod robot that could transform into a sphere shape and back. In 'sphere mode' the robot should be able to roll freely like a ball," says Kåre Halvorsen, an engineer in Norway, on the project's website.

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In a video posted on YouTube this week, it walks (slowly), rolls like a ball down a hill, and then rolls itself across flat pavement. Halvorsen writes that with MorpHex he was trying to solve a recurring problem with animatronics, a discipline of robotics that tries to imbue objects with lifelike motion. Like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. "In almost every science fiction movie computer graphics are used to animate transforming robots," he says. "There has been made a lot of walking robots and remotely operated balls but not a robot that combines these two features (as far as I know)."

The MorpHex is four years in the making, and he's always tweaking it. Its construction relies on 36 ball bearings and 25 servos. It walks on six legs and likely terrifies small children.

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