The biological model for the BionicWheelBot is the flic-flac spider (cebrennus rechenbergi). It lives in the Erg Chebbi desert on the edge of the Sahara. The flic-flac spider can walk like other spiders. It can also propel itself into the air, however, with a combined sequence of somersaulting and rolling on the ground.

It is, therefore, ideally adapted to its surroundings: on even ground, it is twice as fast in so-called rolling mode than when walking. However, where it is uneven, it is faster walking normally. As such, in the desert, where both types of terrain can be found, it is able to move safely and efficiently.

In order to start rolling, the BionicWheelBot bends three legs each on the left and right of its body to make a wheel. Two legs folded up whilst walking then extend, push the rolled-up spider off the ground, and continuously push it forward whilst rolling. This prevents the BionicWheelBot from grinding to a halt and ensures that it can move itself forward even on rough terrain. In rolling mode, the artificial spider – like its natural role model – is much faster than when walking. At the same time, the robot can even overcome inclines of up to five per cent uphill.

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