Technology Update (March 2016)

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Cockroach-like robot could save people during earthquakes

Scientists at University of California, Berkeley, USA, have drawn robotic inspiration in a cockroach’s ability to squish through the tiniest of cracks and still move at tremendous pace even under compressed state.

The flexibility of cockroaches allows them to travel at 4.8kmph. Using a high-speed camera, scientists observed that the insects could manage themselves into a space less than a quarter of their height by minimising the size of their exoskeletons to nearly half, and this adjustment would take them just a second. They also observed that the exoskeleton collapse does not slow them down; it continues by means of body-friction legged crawling.

This gave them a hidden potential robot. They laid out an arrangement of plates, laminated in a way similar to the exoskeleton and wrapped it around a robot. They named it CRAM, or Compressible Robot with Articulated Mechanisms.

CRAM, the compressible robot, with a real cockroach (Image courtesy: www.cbsnews.com)
CRAM, the compressible robot, with a real cockroach (Image courtesy: www.cbsnews.com)
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