Robot Roach for Rescue Operations and Environmental Monitoring

Robot Roach for Rescue Operations and Environmental Monitoring

By Shinji Tutoru

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, CA, USA. A robot cockroach was developed that can tremendously inspire future terrestrial robot designs for search and rescue operations. Also, it can be very useful in monitoring the environment.

Postdoctoral researcher Chen Li and his team from the University of California got their inspiration from the common cockroach. These insects have been observed by the researchers with the use of high-speed cameras. Their movements were carefully studied especially when they encounter a number of cluttered obstacles like litter of leaves, blades of grass, tree trunks, shrubs, etc.

The researchers tested their small, six-legged, rectangular roach robot and realized that it was very difficult for it to get through grass-like beams. The robot roach collided with the obstacles and oftentimes got stuck.

Li and his team made some adjustments by adding different artificial shells to the robot roach as it navigated through grass-like strips. Just like cockroaches, the robot passed through the strips by rolling sideways.

They found out that using a flattened back, the robot repeatedly toppled over backwards. They used a thin and rounded shell similar to a real cockroach and it helped the robot in re-orienting itself and successfully passing through the obstacles.

The team is currently looking for other shapes that can enhance movements on land and hopefully could morph in diverse situations. The modified cockroach robot can now navigate through tight spaces without the need to add motors or sensors. In the future, terrestrial robots will require simple controls with minimal sensors in search and rescue operations and environmental monitoring.

Invention Robot Cockroach That Can Walk Through Narrow Gaps
Organization University of California
Researcher Chen Li & Team
Field(s) Robotics, Biomimetics, Bioinspiration
Further Information

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