Ever want to go for a walk with six legs? No doubt such a thing could be handy for rough terrain or other places that would require some sure footed movement. Sterlac is working to provide you that capability, with their Muscle Machine that responds to human movement with its own six legged movement. The control itself is as simple as walking.
When the operator moves a leg, encoders at the hip joint direct the machine as to direction and speed to move. The operator's leg lift instructs the six legged machine to lift its three alternate machine legs and swing them forward, in what I assume is a modified tripod arrangement. By twisting its torso as it moves the machine walks in the direction it is facing.
The Muscle Machine is five meters in diameter, and it is a pneumatically powered system using fluidic muscle actuators. The rubber muscles, according to the project website, contract when inflated and extend when exhausted, creating a flexible and reliable engineering design.
Once the Muscle Machine starts moving the symbiosis of man and machine creates a interlocked system that seems almost cyborg in nature, since both man and machine are in control of the movement. The applications are numerous for such a design, and it will be interesting to see how far this develops.