German engineers have unveiled a rolling robot dubbed ‘Wheel 2.0’.

It looks like a bicycle chain made of twelve segments about the size of a fist, each containing an independent motor.

‘Wheel 2.0’, otherwise known as ‘Ourobot’, contains pressure sensors in its chain segments which enable it to detect and overcome obstacles.

“At the moment Ourobot can only move straight ahead and cannot manage curves yet, but its sensors can detect obstacles, such as a book, and can traverse them,” explains Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences researcher Jan Paskarbeit.

The individual chain links interact usuing complex mathematics in order to roll over an obstacle.

“It is remarkable how the students have solved this,” says research leader Axel Schneider.

The team took Ourobot to the international robot conference ICRA in Stockholm, where they say it was met with great interest.

The young engineers’ next step will be to take their robot, which currently works in two dimensions, “into the third dimension”, Schneider explains.

“We would like to develop a robot that actively changes its form, which can adapt to its environment like an amoeba, capable of stretching and shrinking again,” the professor said.

In this way, they hope Ourobot can move through narrow terrain and overcome obstacles by means of different movements.

The team has designed different variations of the new 3D version of Ourobot, similar to a ball or a snake.

More information is available in the video below.