This might be nightmare fuel to anyone that has ever encountered a real cockroach that scampers around super-fast and is incredibly hard to kill.
But for researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), the quickness and near invincibility of the cockroach was a source of inspiration for a new type of robot.
The school has developed a centimeter-scale robot inspired by cockroaches called the Harvard Ambulatory Microbot (HAMR) that can run at high speeds, jump, climb, turn sharply, carry payloads and fall from great distances without injury.
“The HAMR platform evolved from our exploration of millimeter-scale fabrication and actuation strategies,” says Robert J. Wood, professor of engineering and applied sciences at SEAS. “Our techniques allow us to create robots that don’t sacrifice complexity as the size is reduced and enabled us to create robots that rival some of the capabilities of their biological counterparts. These robots are as valuable for biological studies as they will eventually be for tasks such as search and rescue and infrastructure inspection.”
The robot includes two actuators that mimic the joints of the cockroach and give HAMR the mobility to move around objects quickly. HAMR can carry up to two times its own bodyweight and researchers believe such a robot could be used to carry sensors or other objects in the field.
Harvard believes the robot could one day be used as a search and rescue tool to scout through rubble or used in off-plant survey missions where the environment is too harsh for humans.