In recent years hexagonal hexapod robots gained the interest of international research community. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, after summarizing all known gaits of such robots, we introduce some improvements both for normal conditions and for fault tolerance. Then we show the advantages of hexagonal hexapod robots over rectangular ones by comparing different gaits from theoretical and experimental points of view. Stability, fault tolerance, turning ability, and terrain adaptability are analyzed. For reaching these aims we also introduce a robot kinematics that considers at the same time supporting and transferring legs. The trajectories of feet are described as well. Finally, single leg stride selection is studied for side wave and for kick-off gaits to optimize walking ability and energy management.
The theoretical results presented herein have been validated with experiments conducted on a prototype of the Novel Robotics System for Planetary Exploration (Rovetta et al., “New Robot Concepts for Mars Soil Exploration: Mechanics and Functionality,” ASTRA 2004, Eighth ESA Workshop on Advanced Space Technologies for Robotics and Automatian, Nordwijk, The Netherlands Nov. 2–4, 2004) (NOROS), developed by Politecnico di Milano and Beijing University of Astronautics and Aeronautics, and the results are summarized in this paper.