outrunner robot kickstarter campaign
May 27, 2014

Remote Control OutRunner Robot Runs On Six Legs

Alan McStravick for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Sure, the Japanese have created a robot that can dance and have conversations with President Obama. We saw their technology on his most recent trip to Asia. But a group of Florida engineers and scientists believe they may have created the first generation of the super-utility robot.

The Kickstarter campaign to bring this creation to a production-ready state has already garnered nearly $50,000 of the requested $150,000 goal with only 11 days left to raise funds. The thing about Kickstarter, though, is that it's an all-or-nothing proposition. The team behind the OutRunner robot are hoping the final days of the campaign will see them push past their fundraising goal.

The subject of their campaign, the OutRunner, is a six-legged remote-controlled robot that can travel across multiple terrains at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. Standing at just under two feet tall and weighing approximately three pounds, the OutRunner can operate for two hours on a single charge.

The OutRunner was designed by Sebastien Cotton and his team at Robotics Unlimited, formerly of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC). The IHMC is a not-for-profit research institute centered on understanding cognition in both humans and machines.

“The whole robotic world is really closed off right now,” Cotton told the Associated Press. “If you're not an engineer or Ph.D., well, you won't be able to play with robots.” Cotton and his team aim to change that way of thinking. “I started my company to commercialize robots.”

The six legs of OutRunner are on either side of the central motor and processing unit, appearing almost as a three-spoked wheel, minus the wheel. The robot rotates each of the legs in such a way that as one leg is being lifted off the ground, the leg on the other side is performing its foot strike.

“One of the hardest things with bipedal locomotion is swinging the leg forward,” Cotton explained to the news agency. “That's a very complicated motion, so we took a different approach to simplify the mechanics by having the legs spinning.”

Design and testing of the OutRunner robot has consumed Cotton and his team for about the past year. The next phase, marketing, is where they believe OutRunner will shine. “We see a lot of uses for this,” Cotton shared. “First, for people who love to build and take apart things, it's perfect because OutRunner is completely upgradeable. It can also be educational because it's very fun for kids to play with and easy to use.”

And the price isn't prohibitive, either. The core model, operated solely by remote control, will sell for around $299 and will have a top speed of 10 miles per hour. The performance model, selling for $799, will be able to be operated by both radio control and an included smart phone application and will reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. Potential buyers would be able to purchase the lesser expensive model and provide their own modifications, potentially creating their own performance model. “We want people to be able to play with real robots without having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Cotton explained.

Cotton and his team believe OutRunner will be fully developed by the end of this year. Supporters of Robotics Unlimited's OutRunner Kickstarter campaign should expect delivery of their very own OutRunner in late 2014.