Centauro is a horse-shaped robot that has been designed for search and rescue missions. It can whizz around on its four legs on uneven terrains and hard-to-reach places, controlled by a human.
It’s almost human-sized itself, with a height of 1.5m (5ft) and it weighs a pretty hefty 93kg, meaning it’s pretty sturdy.
But Centauro’s makers have tried to keep t as lightweight as possible, with its skeleton made from lightweight materials and its body covered in 3D-printed plastic. Inside, there’s a battery that will keep the robot juiced by for around 2.5 hours before it has to return to base to be topped up.
It’s driven by lightweight, compliant actuators and is particularly handy for exploring man-made environments such as collapsed buildings and stairs where it’s likely there will be lots of debris it needs to navigate around. It can also carry out other dexterous tasks such as opening a hose or valve.
The robot is controlled by a human in a full-body telepresence suit that provides visual, auditory, and upper body haptic feedback, while sensors will help to give the robot situational awareness.
“It will be able to navigate in affected man-made environments, including the inside of buildings and stairs, which are cluttered with debris and partially collapsed,” the company explained.
The company will now test its Centauro robot to see how it reacts in various environments and will benchmark the results to see how effective it will be for rescue missions.
It was developed because its makers don’t think other disaster relief robots have evolved enough to help in real-world situations.
“Disaster scenarios, like the Fukushima nuclear accident, clearly show that the capabilities of today’s disaster response robots are not sufficient for providing the needed support to rescue workers,” the designers said.
“The Centauro project aims at development of a human-robot symbiotic system where a human operator is telepresent with its whole body in a Centaur-like robot, which is capable of robust locomotion and dexterous manipulation in the rough terrain and austere conditions characteristic of disasters.”