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The Spiral Track Autonomous Robot (STAR)
The STAR Basics
size: 38 inches square and 30 inches high
price tag: $15,000
see me in action

Getting Around
The STAR uses two screws (one left-hand screw and one right-hand screw) to propel itself along the ground. Rotating the screws in different directions allows the robot to move forwards, backwards, left and right—as well as to rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise while standing in place. It can climb steep terrain and operates effectively over mud, sand, soil, and rocky ground. The screws are hollow, which gives the vehicle enough buoyancy to negotiate water-logged terrain as well as rivers and streams. A team of engineers developed STAR at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Speed: 133 feet per minute when moving sideways, 20 feet per minute when moving forward or backwards.

STAR can be controlled remotely or can control itself autonomously. During remote operation, an operator controls the robot using a wireless data link attached to a laptop computer. The operator can view the surrounding environment via a wireless video. In the autonomous mode, STAR is given start and end points and can then plan its own path independently.

Other Features
  • STAR can be equipped with video cameras, microphones and infrared sensors.
  • It can also employ radiation and gas sensors.
  • The robot can also be equipped with Micropower Impulse Radar (MIR) land mine detection technology (which was also developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory).
See Me in Action
You'll need one of the (free) software plugins—RealPlayer or QuickTime—to be able to view the video clips of robots in action. If you already have the software, choose an appropriate connection speed (RealVideo) or the file size (QuickTime, AVI) to view a clip.

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Photos: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

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