X-RHex: A Highly Mobile Hexapedal Robot for Sensorimotor Tasks

We report on the design and development of X-RHex, a hexapedal robot with a single actuator per leg, intended for real-world mobile applications. X-RHex is an updated version of the RHex platform, designed to offer substantial improvements in power, run-time, payload size, durability, and terrain negotiation, with a smaller physical volume and a comparable footprint and weight. Furthermore, X-RHex is designed to be easier to build and maintain by using a variety of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components for a majority of its internals. This document describes the X-RHex architecture and design, with a particular focus on the new ability of this robot to carry modular payloads as a laboratory on legs. X-RHex supports a variety of sensor suites on a small, mobile robotic platform intended for broad, general use in research, defense, and search and rescue applications. Comparisons with previous RHex platforms are presented throughout, with preliminary tests indicating that the locomotive capabilities of X-RHex can meet or exceed the previous platforms. With the additional payload capabilities of X-RHex, we claim it to be the first robot of its size to carry a fully programmable GPU for fast, parallel sensor processing.