March 18, 2009 Take one DIY Self balancing electric vehicle project, replace the wheels with 6 pars of short legs based on Theo Jansen kinetic sculptures and the result looks like something out of “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”. A dynamically stabilized, ride-on robot that crawls.

The Cajun Crawler was built by a team of mechanical engineering students at the University of Louisiana and was inspired by Theo Jansen's leg mechanism. During their research the students found no application where Jansen's leg mechanism was used in a weight-bearing application or on a vehicle.

The six pairs of insect like legs are machined from 5052 Aluminium and driven with two 18V hand-drill motors that drive the legs via a crankshaft. The electronics and battery packs from the cordless drills were also used to power the crawler. The Cajun Crawler uses the same Dynamic Stabilization used in the Segway, but the multiple feet give it a more stable platform with a top speed of 3mph.

The materials used to make the Crawler cost approximately USD$1100-1200 in total. Thanks to the low cost of microcontollers and electronic components DIY Segway projects have become a popular choice in university mechanical engineering labs around the world with many variations on the idea but this is the first we have seen that crawls.

The original Segway came out of the first product that used Dean Kamen's balancing technology, the iBOT wheelchair which could climb stairs. We shall have to wait and see if any students try to build a balancing robot with human sized legs.

Check out the video of the Cajun Crawler in action below.

Paul Evans