Kaushik Jayaram and Robert Full both of the Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley have developed a roach-inspired robot which could slip into places otherwise inaccessible, aiding rescue workers and potentially saving lives after earthquakes or other disasters.
The duo were inspired into developing the robot by studying just how roaches work even after they’ve been compressed, thus giving birth to a robot that can slip through an opening half its height.
Explaining what they learnt about roach impression and how they applied it to their robot, Jayaram said; “Essentially, roach bodies are really elastic. Standing normally 10mm (or less than half an inch) tall, roaches can squeeze through gaps as narrow as 3mm (or 1/10th of an inch) and then rise to their full height.
“Exoskeletal strength allowed cockroaches to withstand forces 300 times body weight when traversing the smallest crevices and up to nearly 900 times body weight without injury.” He added.
When asked what inspired the innovation, the researchers wrote that robots inspired by this design could crawl through rubbles to save lives.
“We see this robot useful both as a physical model to test future hypotheses of the mechanisms permitting confined-space locomotion, as well as a first step toward the development of a soft search-and-rescue robot that can penetrate the rubble left by tornadoes, earthquakes, or explosions.”
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