Introducing the Halluc IIχ, a transforming robot modeled after one of the weirdest fossils ever found: Hallucigenia sparsa. Named for its bizarre, dream-like quality, the ancient worm had a permanent grin, tooth-lined throat, neck-tentacles, and spines down its back. Not exactly something you’d want to find in your bed, but a robot version? Bring it on.
Developed by engineers at Japan’s Future Robotics Technology Centre (FuRo), Halluc IIχ is the second installation of the “Hallucigenia project,” which aims to develop practical modes of transport that can co-exist with both society and the natural world. “The motor vehicle industry was, without doubt, one of the most successful industries of the 20th century,” writes FuRo. “However, the basic principles involved in the automobile have hardly changed in a hundred years and the time seems right for more advancement.”
The bot transforms into three modes: vehicle (driving), insect (crawling), and animal (some strange mixture of sumo-squatting and scuttling). “And it features a newly developed ultra-multi-motored system with 56 motors, which makes traveling on unpaved surfaces possible and eliminates the need for paving.”
Just how “one with nature” this thing can be remains to be determined, as we’re still a ways off from seeing a full-scale model, capable of human transport. But it’s definitely interesting, and with its foldable design, it could fit nicely into a crowded urban sprawl. “As long as there is space to park the body, [it] can slide in from any angle and travel over large gaps and steps,” says the team. “Hallucigenia is an organism that was so named by fossil scientists due to its strange form. It died off without leaving offspring, however, there is no doubt that the archetypes for organisms today are the result of various experiments. We hope that the experimental designs here might become the archetype for future vehicles.”