Aug 17, 2019 | Updated: 07:24 AM EDT

You Can’t Just Kill This Robot Cockroach With a Step

Aug 04, 2019 04:58 AM EDT


They say that when the end of the world comes, it's the roaches that would survive.  Well, this roachbot seems to have gotten that covered.

In robotics, the essential features that experts look at are mobility and robustness.  With the goal of creating stronger and more flexible robots, scientists have gotten inspired by the tiny, strong creatures in nature-cockroaches.  Being one of the insects with high population all over the world, cockroaches have made it known to humans that they are somewhat a threat.

The scientists started with their research by observing cockroaches as they were squished with the objective of getting a feel of how the insects go about everywhere, squeeze their bodies through tiny holes, and tolerate heavy loads.

From here, the researchers have developed robots that mimic the movement and properties of a cockroach.  The tiny robots are one-legged, blade-shaped, and bounces around like a cockroach at a measured speed of 20 times its body length per second.  It is about three by 1.5 centimeters in size and is driven by an alternating current, with materials that can generate an electrical response to external stimuli.

The researchers looked at the speed, strength, and flexibility of the so called "roachbot".  They put a number of weights and objects on it and recorded how fast it could move along a ruler.  They reported in Science Robotics that the robot can climb an angled plane of 7.5 degrees at a rate of seven times its body length per second.  They also observed that it can carry objects of up to six times its weight, as well as tolerate the action of an adult human foot stepping on it-that is about a million times as heavy as the roachbot.  After surviving this heavy weight, the roachbot simply continued to move.


The fast mobility and observable robustness of the tiny robot is believed to be due to its curved unimorph piezoelectric structure made of an 18-micron thick PVDF layer, two 50-nanometer thick palladium/gold electrodes that sandwich the PVDF layer, a 25-micron thick adhesive silicone, and a 25-micron thick PET substrate at the bottom.

In comparison with other robotic structures, the roachbot is considered unique in a way that it has a flexible but strong exoskeleton while other robots have a rigid structure, causing them to move slowly.  This product are seen to be very helpful with environmental exploration and disaster relief, as scientists aim to improve the behavior and response of the robot.

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