Why design a robot that locomotes like – and even vaguely resembles – a turtle? To learn how to cross the road.
The C-Turtle engineered by roboticists and biologists at Arizona State University combines machine learning and inspiration from nature to learn how to navigate different terrain. Designed for sandy environments, the reptilian robot needed one hour of learning to walk in sand during a desert test.
Flippers based on the shape and function of sea turtle flippers propel the robot. This exercise in developmental robotics confirms a synergy between biology and robotics, and demonstrates a low-cost, relatively simple route to robot assembly. The C-Turtle is composed of thin cardboard, $5 motors and $10 chips – for a total fabrication cost of $70.
The advent of 3-D printers lends itself to the cost-efficient machining of these robots, which could find a use in environmental monitoring or locating minefields.