Shape helps six-legged robot shimmy past obstacles
Chen Li, courtesy of PolyPEDAL Lab, Biomimetic Millisystems Lab and CiBER/UC Berkeley
Cluttered terrain won’t block this cockroach-bot. A sleek, rounded shell lets the six-legged robot scurry through tight spaces, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley report online June 22 in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics.
The robo-roach is short and squat, kind of like a clunky smartphone with legs. A bulky body is fine for trekking over flat surfaces, but not so much for moving in three dimensions. Bots tend to bump into obstacles and get stuck — but wearing a roach-style shell can help.
The arched plastic shell let the roach-bot wiggle through a maze of paper strips that stood upright like blades of grass, researchers found. Like real roaches, the shell-wearing bot could “body roll,” flipping sideways to shimmy through gaps.
Streamlining robots’ shapes could be a simple way to help