Researches Create Roaches Inspired- Robot Capable of Running through Crevices

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Researchers from University of California (UC) – Berkeley created a squishy robot that can run even when flattened.

Cockroaches can quickly squeeze through the tiniest of cracks in search of food or shelter. They can squish themselves into rapture, one-tenth of an inch and evade at a high speed when flattened in half. Such creepy findings from the researchers of University of California – Berkeley inspired a robot capable of running rapidly through tiny cracks.

Kaushik Jayram, a robotics engineer at UC, designed a simple and cheap palm-sized robot that can splay its legs outward when squashed, then capped it with a plastic shield similar to the tough and smooth wings of a cockroach. The robot known as Compressible Robot with Articulated Mechanisms or CRAM is able to squeeze and run through crevices half its height. Origami-like manufacturing technique makes CRAM an effective model of speed and toughness.  The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on February 8, 2016.

Jayaram and his team analyzed movement patterns of various insects to understand basic biomechanical principles that underlie locomotion. High- speed cameras were used to record roaches running at their maximum speed between plates spaced a quarter-inch apart, less than the thinnest part of a roach’s body. The recordings when analyzed in slow motion revealed that the roaches could slip through slits of one-tenth of an inch. When the roaches were squashed, they used their sensory spines on the tibia to push against the floor to move forward instead of using their feet. The team attached sandpaper to the crevices to record how friction affected the locomotion. It was observed that the smooth top shell of the roaches was sufficient to push them forward rapidly and the less frictional resistance from the floor was just enough to slow it down when required. Such mode of locomotion can be referred as body frictional legged crawling with drag on the body. The thrust by the legs is controlled by friction in such locomotion, however no drag is experienced from the flowing media such as air, water or sand.

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