July 14, 2006 The recent biannual European Land Robot Trials (ELROB) at the Hammelburg Army Base in Germany saw some pretty remarkable ground robots unveiled to the assembled, military, and none was more impressive than the new Spybot 4WD from MacroSwiss. The new Spyrobot is an evolution of the Spybot Mk II, with higher payload and 4WD terrain handling capabilities. Though the unit is quite small and weighs just 6 kg, its cross-country mobility is extraordinary due to its patent-pending flexible Flapper Wheels. The wheels, which function somewhere between riverboat paddle wheels and motocross knobby tyres combine with a robust, fully-sealed construction to enable it to navigate waterways, descend stairs, climb slippery 45 degree slopes, or survive being tossed up to 10 metres. The ingenious wheel design enables them to act as shock absorber, suspension, stabilizer and get enough traction to handle extreme obstacles, such as the “potato field” obstacle course at ELROB where the little feller severely embarassed robots several factors more expensive.
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