At this point, we’ve seen researchers and businesses building large numbers of robots for a variety of purposes. They come in all shapes, sizes and form factors, from humanoid robots such as Moxi to the Boston Dynamics dog-inspired robot Spot. Researchers are now building robots inspired by the characteristics and shapes of cockroaches.
Developed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, the now-unnamed little robot looks like a cockroach and even has some of its features. For example, like biological counterparts, cockroach robots can move at speeds of up to 20 bodies per second and can withstand loads up to 1 million times their own weight.
A bot that weighs only one tenth of a gram can be stepped on by a human foot and can withstand a weight of about 60 kg. However, as soon as you raise your leg, the bot lifts itself and starts moving again. Oh yeah, you can’t crush it.
“Most of this particular small robot is very fragile. We’ve found that even with the emphasis on robots, it works more or less.” Liwei Lin, a mechanical engineer at the University of California, Berkeley, says.
Thanks to the unique design, the bot is sturdy. Made from a thin sheet of polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF). A special piezoelectric material that expands and contracts when a small amount of alternating current is applied. This creates a “leap frog” motion that moves the robot forward.
In addition, researchers added a front leg and elastic polymer to the bot, bending a thin PVDF sheet forward to propel it. In addition, they experimented with bots of various lengths ranging from 10 mm to 30 mm, varying the frequency and voltage of the current and observing the execution speed of the design.
Check out the video below to showcase a researcher’s experiment with the bot.
As you can see, cockroach bots are pushed into small tubes and can pass through them at high speed. You can also carry up to 6 times its own weight, which is demonstrated by fixing peanuts on top of the bot.
Currently, the bot must be connected to a power source for it to work. But in the future, researchers say that future versions of bots can be powered by smaller batteries.
What is the purpose of this cockroach robot? Well, researchers say such robots can be used to monitor and access very tight spaces that traditional robots can’t pass through. In addition, we aim to attach a gas sensor to the bot to check for gas leaks in tight spaces. In addition, researchers say that large robots cannot pass through small spaces and can be used to detect life under debris during an earthquake.
“We hope that the proposed insect-scale robot will pave the way for a fast and robust robot for practical use.” Their research treatise concludes the researchers.