Cockroach-inspired robots could help in rescue operations in future

Cockroach-inspired robots could help in rescue operations in future

Taking inspiration from creepy cockroaches, a group of biomechanics experts at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) have designed a cockroach bot that can squeeze through tiny spaces at amazing high speeds.

Lead researcher Robert Full and his team analyzed American cockroaches (Periplaneta americana), and concluded that the creepy creatures’ soft bodies, resilient shells and agile creepy-crawling ability could be an ideal model for creating a robot for search-and-rescue operations.

They initially made some cockroaches to run through a tunnel 12 millimeter high, and then kept on decreasing the tunnel’s height down to 6 and eventually 4 millimeters. The final height of the tunnel was less than 33 per cent of the insect’s standing height but the cockroaches maintained their high speed even while running through the tightest tunnel.

Inspired by the tiny creatures, they designed a palm-size prototype, called the Compressible Robot with Articulated Mechanisms (CRAM), which is able to compress its body and move through tight spaces.

Speaking about their research, Mr. Full said, “We are not entomologists — insect experts — we also think they’re disgusting. But they can teach us bigger principles.”

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study suggested that roach-inspired robots can one day move into huge debris piles, toppled buildings or collapsed mines to help rescue crews find buried people.