Image via YouTube video
Biomimicry is a perfect area of study for researchers building robots, since animals, particularly insects, have such a wide variety of ways to get around. For caterpillars, that includes rolling up into a ball and flipping away at a seemingly impossible speed. That technique has been harnessed in a robot that can curl up and roll away in milliseconds. Biomimicry has helped engineers create robots that move in all sorts of clever ways, and even fly. DARPA is especially interested in different biomimetic inspirations for ways to get robots to move across difficult terrain for military purposes. In fact, DARPA is the cash behind this project from Tufts.
Called GoQBot, the silicone robot is outfitted with actuators made from shape-memory alloy coils that allow it to coil up and get moving in just 250 milliseconds, and roll at a speed of 300 rpm, according to Popular Science.
Here is the caterpillar that inspired the project, and a presentation of the robot in real time:
And here is the robot slowed down:
The hope behind this research is a new way to get a robot in and out of battle situations as fast as possible. Huai-Tin Lin, who designed the GoQBot, told Popular Science, "The robot can wheel to a debris field and wiggle into the danger for us." If anything, it could sure scare the bejeezus out of someone if it suddenly rolls right past them.
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