Fast and agile insect-sized robot developed for missions on complex terrain

Insects are often used as inspiration for robotics as their small bodies contain many wonders that can give robots unlimited potential when replicated.
By: HyperCharge Technology
RAMAT GAN, Israel - July 26, 2021 - PRLog -- For example, the innate speed and agility of some bugs like cockroaches and spiders allows them to scurry in a quick manner that people have a hard time following them.

They also have the ability to stick and run on the wall or ceiling, giving them versatility in terms of movement and navigation on different terrains. These innate abilities are thanks to the sticky footpads that they have which allows them to move quickly and defy gravity.

Having been inspired by the idea, a team of engineers from University of California in Berkeley developed an insect-scale robot that uses the same principles observed on the feet of these insects, which is called electrostatic adhesion. Replicating this principle on the robot gave it the ability to pivot and swerve as how cockroaches and spiders do, allowing it to traverse high difficulty terrains without bumping into anything due to its agility.

They originally created an insect-sized robot that can move at about 1.5 miles an hour, which is very quick given its size. However, this robot struggles in terms of turning. That's why on the new research, they focused on giving the robot the ability to quickly maneuver against any obstacles caused by sudden changes in the terrain.

To prove the agility of their new robot, they filmed a video of the robot navigating through Lego mazes while it carries a small gas sensor. To spice things up, falling debris are being presented to show the maneuverability and speed of the robot even while it carried the sensor.

Currently, the robot is being powered and controlled through a small wire but they were also able to develop an untethered version which operates on battery and can last up to a little less than 20 minutes. The robot itself shows that it has the power despite its size as it can carry the sensor and still display quick movement, and very sturdy as it can withstand being stepped on by a 120-pound man. The robot is being eyed to be used for missions such as detecting potential gas leak to lower risk on human.

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