Skip To Main Content
Graduate student working on Dell laptop

Explore degrees available through the No. 1 online graduate program in Texas. Study online to earn the same quality degree as on campus.

Two students working on equations on a white board. One student pointing at a white board with eligible text, equations and diagrams while another closely observes
Get information on the application process and funding opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and transfer students. 
Ingenium Our blog by students, for students

Get inspired by experiences and opportunities shared by fellow engineering students.

Texas A&M University in the background with seven students with their thumbs up holding a sign that says Future Aggie Engineers and Engineering Texas A&M University
PK-12 Outreach Spark!
Students and organizations can bring hands-on activities or design challenges to your location or just visit as guest speakers.
Concept illustration of the adaptable Wheel-and-Leg Transformable Robot currently being developed under a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency contract. | Image: Courtesy of Dr. Kiju Lee

A team of researchers is creating mobile robots for military applications that can determine, with or without human intervention, whether wheels or legs are more suitable to travel across terrains. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has partnered with Dr. Kiju Lee at Texas A&M University to enhance these robots' ability to self-sufficiently travel through urban military environments. 

The DARPA OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program awarded Lee, associate professor in the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution and the J. Mike Walker '66 Department of Mechanical Engineering, and a team of graduate students another opportunity after her prior successful accomplishments on developing a mixed-reality swarm simulator with embedded consensus-based decision making for adaptive human-swarm teaming as part of the OFFSET Sprint-3. This project was showcased at OFFSET’s third field experiment (FX3) together with other participating teams.

Concept illustration of new swarm capabilities realized by α-WaLTR. | Image: Courtesy of Dr. Kiju Lee

“I have recently been awarded a new DARPA contract to join the OFFSET Sprint-5 effort focusing on enhancements to (the robot’s) physical testbeds,” Lee said. “Through this new project, I will develop unmanned ground vehicles with agile and versatile locomotive capabilities for urban military operations.”

Lee and her team are developing an adaptable Wheel-and-Leg Transformable Robot (α-WaLTR) that can traverse over varying surfaces, including staircases, more efficiently. The α-WaLTR will move with wheels or legs depending on their immediate need and will be able to decide for itself which to use.

Left to right: Chen Zhao, Kiju Lee, Michael Fu and Chuanqi Zheng at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. | Image: Courtesy of Dr. Kiju Lee

“Legged locomotion is more versatile, but suffers from inherent structural, mechanical and control complexities,” Lee said. “The proposed testbed will be equipped with novel wheel/leg transformable mechanisms, which can switch between the two locomotion modes actively adapting to its environment, but without needing any additional actuator.”

The team is rapidly developing prototypes and will showcase this new hardware platform at the OFFSET FX5 tentatively scheduled for February 2021.  

Live demo of the Adaptable Human-Swarm Teaming interaction and mixed reality swarm visualization at the OFFSET field experiment that took place at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. | Image: Courtesy of Dr. Kiju Lee

Although created for military use, the team hopes this technology will transcend this field.

“While the current focus is on defense and other military applications, these types of adaptable mobile robots can be applied to many other areas, such as space, domestic service, surveillance and agriculture,” said Lee.

The OFFSET Sprint-5 effort is led by Lee along with the help of five graduate students and one undergraduate student — Chuanqi Zheng, Siddharth Sane, Vishnu Kalyanram, Kangneoung Lee, Sohil Parsana and Jenna Horn.