Want to take the in-wheel electric motor concept cars like iReal or Pivo off roading? NASA is developing ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) which has in-wheel electric motors as the "foot pads" for mechanical legs. The advantage to this set-up is the small in-wheel electric motors are ideal for transport on flatter surfaces while the robotic legs are better for rougher surfaces. There are several slow, robotic human carriers that exist but what might the future hold for this technology?
Below the fold is a clip from the anime Ghost in the Shell that include Tachikomas, intelligent robots with robot legs that have wheels at the end. At the end of the Nissan press conference at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, Carlos Ghosn, Nissan CEO says with no more engine blocks, transmissions, mechanical steering gears, etc., sustainable mobility technologies like in-wheel motors represent a radical shift in design. I can't wait.