Desert RHex

In June 2009, Kodlab members took a Research RHex robot to the Mojave Desert, for the purpose of evaluating the performance of legged robots in adverse, mountainous, desert terrain.

Desert RHex, a modified Research RHex robot

The robot received a significant overhaul in preparation for the trip, outfitting it with sensors and electronics to collect important locomotion data, as well as designing and installing a robust shell to endure the difficult environment. A white shell made from both polycarbonate and carbon fiber greatly helped in protecting the RHex robot from the harsh desert environment during tests.

In March 2010, the robot returned to the desert, this time with automated tuning algorithms that allowed it to learn efficient gaits for sandy and rocky terrain. A video of the robot in action follows:


Legged Self-Manipulation
Aaron M. Johnson and D. E. Koditschek
IEEE Access, Vol. 1, 2013. Full PDF

Standing Self-Manipulation for a Legged Robot
Aaron M. JohnsonG. C. Haynes, and D. E. Koditschek
Proceedings of the 2012 IEEE/RSJ Intl. Conference on Intelligent Robots and SystemsFull PDF

Autonomous Legged Hill and Stairwell Ascent
Aaron M. Johnson, Matthew T. Hale, G. C. Haynes, and D. E. Koditschek
IEEE International Symposium on Safety, Security, and Rescue Robotics, November 2011. Full PDF

On the Comparative Analysis of Locomotory Systems with Vertical Travel
G. C. Haynes and D. E. Koditschek
International Symposium on Experimental Robotics, December 2010. Full PDF

See Legged Locomotion for Desert Research for more on our desert research.