Video of RHex the 'Parkour Robot' is magnificent, idiotic

Latest iteration of the beloved hexapod shows off a new slimmer figure and some 'parkour' moves

RHex is one of the robot-darlings of the internet, and this latest video shows exactly why. An all-terrain walking bot developed by US military researchers Boston Dynamics and the University of Pennsylvania, RHex has now been slimmed down to help it gracefully leap and bound over obstacles.

Well, that’s what you feel like you should be watching in this latest video. Producer Kurtis Sensenig has spent a day following the bot about and has laid on all the slow-motion shots and multi-angle edits that you’d expect from some overly-pretentious parkour shoot.

That sort of trip-hop soundtracked indulgence usually bores people, but when applied to a two-foot high robot barely capable of climbing stairs the results are magical:

This particular iteration of RHex (dubbed XRL) differs from its predecessor by using lighter materials and a complete carbon fiber shell – allowing it to suffer the knocks and grazes of its crazed parkour lifestyle.

Each of the hexapod’s legs runs on a single 50 watt motor and are equipped with pressure sensors which allow the bot to respond to its terrain. Pebbles get hit harder than asphalt and this sort of tactile feedback helps control RHex’s movements.

Image courtsey of UPenn

Those familiar with RHex might recognise him from an earlier video that shows the little guy determinedly struggling over rocks and through streams, looking somewhere between a child splashing about in his new wellies and the lead from a new Pixar movie about The Little Deathbot That Could.

Robots will, of course, eventually murder us all in our beds, and with this in mind I’d like to take the time to request in advance that my own bloody demise comes courtesy of the RHex.

Imagine it cheerfully stamping over the duvet with a head-mounted laser and nothing but hatred in its cold robotic heart… Well, it almost makes the apocalypse seem worth it. 

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