Cajun Crawler: the Segway gets a leg-up


March 17, 2009

The Cajun Crawler was built by a team of mechanical engineering students at the University of Louisiana

The Cajun Crawler was built by a team of mechanical engineering students at the University of Louisiana

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


thats awesome, but what would you use it for??


First, this isn't a balancing platform... In the Segway, you go forward by leaning go backward by leaning backwards. This seems to have some kind of paddle speed control on the handlebars. And it doesn't do any balancing at the video it clearly shows a persom falling forward on the thing...this would not happen on a Segway. Then there's the stupid handle bar? Who did they make this for, midgets? Children? Obviously not any kind of adult... This is nothing more than a set of manufactured legs pushing a platform around...nothing all that exciting...I've seen 5 year olds do the same thing with their lego-mindstorm kits! Ed


I read the article, innovative idea. I read the comment above, and it actually made me register an account just to reply.

Ed, you're a shallow jackass.


I\'m conflicted, I LOVE it yet watching it function makes my skin crawl. As for Ed\'s comments: I don\'t see it balancing either, but it\'s kind of neat that it does not have to. Also, there is a video on the web of former USA Prez George W. Bush falling forward on a Segway. Be sure to look at the Gizmag Video of the Honda gadget that looks like a dog biscuit that you sit on one end of. The Honda gadget is a pleasing to watch as this one is creapy to watch. I don\'t see any practical use for either one of these gadgets other than as locomotion for a robot or a camera.

Dave B13

This wasn\'t so much of a project to try to make something new and revolutionary, but rather a \"hey you know what would be cool?\" thing. I know this because I\'m a mechanical engineering student at UL and personally talked to the guys who made it.

Forward Thinker

Wow, that's pretty awesome. Now they need to make it with the legs around 5 times taller and engineer it to be able to "step up" in order to climb steps and possibly even rocks and such. It might make a REALLY awesome replacement for a wheelchair that can handle virtually any terrain.

Ironically, the closest wheelchair to an "all terrain" version out there today was created by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway.

This would look really, really cool in a SciFi movie or show.

Dave Andrews
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