MorpHex: From Sphere to Hexapod and Back

Take a look at the MorpHex, a transforming, walking, and dancing hexapod robot designed from the ground up by Norwegian engineer Kåre Halvorsen.

Let’s face it, robots are awesome. We, as a society, and perhaps even more broadly, as a species have had a fascination for our eventual robotic overlords dating to as far back as ancient China, Greece, and ancient Egypt. All of which are recorded to have attempted to build self-operating machines, some resembling animals as well as humans. It would appear that this tradition has not been lost on modern society, as Norwegian engineer Kåre Halvorsen has designed and created his very own robot.

The MorpHex is indeed an impressive little robot that can transform from a simple globe seamlessly into a crab-like walking hexapod. It can interact with its environment and when finished retract to its spherical base form. It features a very simple, yet elegant design in its own right and once you check out the video below you’ll also appreciate just how cool it all looks once it begins to transform and move .

For a more detailed look, you can also check out how the MorpHex was built step by step.

 

 

To use a popular ’80′s cliche, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the robot pictured above. Named “MorpHex” by its creator, Norwegian engineer Kare Halvorsen, the morphing hexapod hides in plain sight as a harmless looking ball, only to transform into a six-legged robot that responds to its operators commands via remote control. Reminiscent of the robots from the popular Transformers franchise, the only thing MorpHex is missing is a high powered laser weapon to do epic battle with the Decepticons over energon cubes.


Halvorsen had a vision for a transforming hexapod for a long time before he started the building process of MorpHex. Using a world globe that he bought at Toys R’ Us for the body, Halvorsen stripped the plastic of the geographical stickers, then split the sphere in half. Each half he then cut into six sections each to make the outer shell that enables the robot to become a ball.
Trying to keep the robot as light and flexible as possible, Halvorsen decided to use one main digital servo to provide the central axis for the rest of the robot to work with. Connected to this central hub are twelve robotic limbs that can operate on their own or in a linked fashion to enable to the robot to walk. The top 6 are used to form the “head”, with the bottom serving as the feet that provide locomotion for the machine.



For a main board, MorpHex uses a Basicmicro ARC-32 board that is connected to a radio receiver for remote control. Right now, the ball is capable of transforming from a ball and back, and walking in all directions. Halvorsen has not programmed it to be able to roll when in ball form as of yet, but he says that it’s next on the list of functionality for the machine. You can watch a video of MorpHex in action above, as well as a link to the build process.