Wind driven mapping and data collection robots. Cool.
I could see these rolling around the post-apocalypse wastelands or being used to gather data about other planets.
Mir designed his current Tumbleweed prototype to be a robust, adaptive robot. The steel structure relies on tension, which allows it to transform itself depending on its path. The arrangement of the robot’s sails allow it to catch wind and roll. Using a kinetic generator, the Tumbleweed’s motion powers an onboard computer, sensors and motor.
The Tumbleweed can’t control its exact path, but Mir designed it to respond to favorable wind conditions, meaning, the robot will flatten out like a pancake until a gust comes along to propel it in its intended direction. “There are applications where this system could go where people can’t go or can’t afford to go, or can’t go enough to collect the information that these researchers need,” he says.