Also known as walking foot machines or simply walkers, walking machines are means of conveyance that make use of legs rather than tracks or wheels. Utilized in construction, manufacturing, military, and a few other applications, machines of this type are helpful when there is a need to transport cargo over terrain that cannot be covered as easily or as cost-effectively using wheeled vehicles. The exact design of the walking machine will vary, depending on the intended purpose for the device.
The number of legs included on a given walking machine varies from one design to the next. Some designs call for two legs, while others require four or six legs in order to operate at optimum efficiency. With many designs, the weight load and the dimensions of the materials that the machine will transport help to determine how many legs are included. There are also machines that are referred to as hoppers or pogos, since they are equipped with only one leg. However, there is some difference of opinion as to whether a single legged device should really be considered a walker.
In theory, a walking machine can be used in situations that would be difficult for other types of vehicles to manage. For example, using a wheeled vehicle to follow an off-road path up a steep mountain may be hard to manage, as well as somewhat dangerous. A walking machine equipped with two or four legs could be operated remotely, allowing the legs to adjust to the uneven terrain on the mountainside as it walks along. The leg design would allow the machine to simply step over obstacles such as fallen trees. The end result is that materials can be delivered to a way station on the mountain without the need to endanger human life, or run the risk of being blocked along the way.
Over the years, various designs for the walking machine have been developed for use in many settings. However, few of them have attracted much attention from potential users. Some models have been used in manufacturing plants, as a means of transporting goods in process from one department to another, as well as in military operations where the lay of the land makes tanks and other wheeled vehicles impractical. A few have been designed to transport people as well as goods, but the overall potential of walking machine designs for regular use has yet to be realized. The hope is that as technology continues to advance, the cost involved in building a functional walking machine will decrease, thus making the device more attractive to a broader range of users in business and other settings.