Harvard is building robotic cockroaches (video)
Biomimicry in actionThe art and science of biomimicry teaches us to find solutions to our problems by looking at what nature has come up with to solve similar problems. This is what the microrobotics team at Harvard has apparently done with these small cockroach-like autonomous robots. Like insects, their legs move so fast that we must slow down a video of their movements to understand how they do it.
The Harvard Ambulatory MicroRobot (HAMR) is a 1.3g quadrupedal robot manufactured using the PC-MEMS fabrication process and assembled using techniques inspired by pop-up books. Using six piezoelectric actuators, HAMR is capable of tethered locomotion up to 37 cm/s using a 70 Hz gait frequency. In addition, HAMR can successfully carry greater than 1.3g of additional payload, and maneuver using two simple control inputs. A previous prototype integrated power and control to demonstrate autonomous locomotion of a 1.7g walking robot.
Check the micro-robots in action in this video:
It might be possible to someday use similar robots carrying sensors to gather data about ecosystems, the spread of pollutants, or even to inspect industrial buildings by going where humans can't.
The Harvard Ambulatory MicroRobot was developed in the Harvard Microrobotics Lab and was funded by the NSF and Wyss Institute for Biologically-Inspired Engineering.