SCHAFT robotics is taking part in the DARPA Robotics Challenge. They are featured in this documentary by NHK
This is a very really interesting platform. It has the capability of a tracked base with omnidirectional track base capabilities. We typically use tracked robots as they are able to overcome various obstacles and handle even stair climbing. But there isn’t any track base to date that has omni directional capability.
This omni-crawler is from Osaka University and was developed using the omni-ball concept. The omni-ball design is made up of 2 hemisphere which rotates independently and it also rotates around the ball’s axis which allows the base to move as an omni-directional platform. They have plans to use this concept to develop an interplanetary explorer. This is certainly useful for mobile manipulation in different terrain (indoor or outdoor). I will be tracking the progress of this development closely.