Cockroaches are an ideal model for a search-and-rescue robot

Cockroaches are an ideal model for a search-and-rescue robot

In a paper published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a biomechanics expert at the University of California, Berkeley, Robert Full, and a colleague argued that cockroaches, which have soft bodies, resilient shells and nimble creepy-crawling, are a perfect model for a search-and-rescue robot.

Full assured that they aren’t entomologists, insect experts and also think cockroaches are disgusting, but according to them, they can teach bigger principles.

For instance, a cockroach, with its tough outer shell can survive foot stomps, magazine swats, the probable human-induced garbage apocalypse and incidentally getting rolled over by a robot. It is also capable of navigating tight, cramped areas at comparatively swift speeds.

Full along with his co-author, Kaushik Jayaram, collected a bunch of American cockroaches (Periplaneta americana). Thereafter, they squeezed the cockroaches through a series of ever-increasingly tiny tunnels. Even in the tinniest tunnel, measuring just 4 millimeters high, the roaches zipped across at essentially similar speed.

The exoskeleton holds the secret, which are the overlapping chitin plates encasing the body of the bug. According to the Associated Press, the researchers discovered that a cockroach can collapse its exoskeleton down to a quarter of its usual height. The transformation takes less than a second, and the bug barely needs to slow down to do it.

So after getting flattened, the roach easily moves via a tight space with the help of a form of locomotion, which the researchers named, ‘body-friction legged crawling’, using its legs and belly for pushing forward.

While talking to Wired, Full came up with a comparison between the way sand-swimming lizards move across sand and the way baby sea turtles use their flippers for moving on a beach.