Scientists have created a postage stamp size robot taking inspiration from cockroaches. It could withstand the weight of an average size human and could have applications in relief operations.
The living world is an engineering marvel, and nature comprises truly incredible and striking designs. No wonder scientists draw inspiration from nature to create robots. When it comes to miniature robots, insects are probably the first choice to take design inspiration. And recently, a team of scientists from the University of California at Berkeley modeled a tiny postage stamp size robot based on cockroaches. Besides its design similarity, the tiny robot also mimics the sturdiness of roaches. It could withstand the crushing weight and continue to function. In the future, such small robots could be employed in rescue operations after natural disasters.
Cockroach Inspired Robot
Cockroaches are almost invincible due to their highly developed sense and incredibly sturdy physique. Now researchers have tried to create something as robust as cockroaches. The tiny robot can’t be crushed by foot and is the fastest in the world for its size. In terms of resistance, the robot can take upto a million times its weight. Interestingly, it could also carry peanut-sized objects almost six times its weight. To make it faster, researchers have added a second leg and managed to triple its speed.
Simple Yet Robust Design
A robot that small tends to be fragile and would certainly not survive a crushing weight. However, the sturdiness of the roach-inspired robot comes from its simple design. The robot’s body is made up of polyvinylidene fluoride. It’s a piezoelectric substance – when subjected to alternating current, tends to expand and contract. This expansion and contraction are employed for the robot’s movement. Researchers added a front paw to the robot’s body and wrapped it with a thin layer of elastic polymer to translate the movements into forwarding push. It enables the robot to move forward.
Tiny Roach Sized Robot Could be Life Saving In Future
The main application of cockroach robots could be about inspecting or investigating sites following a disaster. In essence, such tiny robots could perform tasks in areas inaccessible to larger machines. Its speed, small size, high resistance, and ability to carry weight six times its own could be of enormous advantage in such scenarios.
As the next step for its development, researchers plan to add a tiny battery to make it fully autonomous. In addition to that, researchers have also developed a miniature gas detector to install on the robot’s body. It will enable the robot to detect gas leaks – an ability highly beneficial in disaster sites. The project opens doors of limitless opportunities, and the researchers hope that tiny robots could pave the way for agile and robust machines with innumerable practical applications.