The number of legs an animal, or robot, possesses is pretty directly correlated to how much energy they use. Fewer legs means more energy is expended to stand still, while more legs take more energy to move. That’s why a cow can stand up all day long, while humans want to have a sit after a few minutes. That’s also why humans can run further than any other animal, because it doesn’t take as much energy to move two legs as it does four. We trade stability for distance, but this 32-legged robot takes the exact opposite approach.
Mochibot was designed and built by researchers from The University of Tokyo and Keio University. Technically, it’s shape is a rhombic triacontahedron — a polyhedron with 30 faces joined by 32 vertices. But, when all of the robot’s legs are extended equally, it really just looks like a ball. Each of Mochibot’s 32 legs can be extended or retracted individually as needed to move or stay still. That overabundance of legs gives Mochibot some unique properties we don’t often see.
You may not notice it immediately, but you actually use a lot of energy when you’re standing still. Your muscles need to remain tense, and you’re subconsciously making small adjustments to balance. Thanks to its many legs, Mochibot can stop in any position and remain completely stable. When it’s time to move again, it coordinates the extensions and retractions of its legs to roll around like some kind of amorphous blob. And, because the legs are arranged evenly around its body, Mochibot can move in whatever direction it likes without having to turn.