If you ever watched Disney Pixar’s Wall-E back in 2008, one character that probably stuck with many audiences was the main character’s pet cockroach. Whether or not your a fan of these little insects, a cockroach-inspired robot from UC Berkeley is coming.
The roach-bots is a major push forward for search-and-rescue aid especially in debris-heavy calamities like tornadoes and earthquakes.
Kaushik Jayaram, the study leader behind the project observed that American cockroaches can rapidly squeeze through cracks “They’re about half an inch tall when they run freely, but can squish their bodies to one-tenth of an inch — the height of two stacked pennies, ” he also noted the impressive locomotion of the roaches saying, “What’s impressive about these cockroaches is that they can run as fast through a quarter-inch gap as a half-inch gap, by reorienting their legs completely out to the side.”
With these observations and studies of cockroaches , the team created “CRAM” for Compressible Robot with Articulated Mechanism. The robot is squash-resistant mimicking the capability of cockroaches to withstand forces 900 times their body weight without feeling any pain. It is palm-sized and capped with a plastic shield similar to the outer covering of the upper body of cockroaches.
The entire project was built using an origami-like technique with the help of Dash Robotics– a commercial spin-off from a past robotic work at UC Berkeley.
The project is currently being upgraded and fixes are being made. The work is supported by the Army Research Laboratory through the Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology (MAST), a Collaborative Technology Alliance involving industry, universities and the U.S. Army.