Researchers have created a tiny, super light cockroach-inspired robot that can withstand weight a million times heavier than itself and won’t stop functioning even when someone steps on it.
A team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley developed a new robot inspired by cockroach that weighs less than one-tenth of a gram, but can survive weight of a 60kg person stepping on it.
“People may have experienced that, if you step on the cockroach, you may have to grind it up a little bit, otherwise the cockroach may still survive and run away,” said senior author Liwei Lin. “Somebody stepping on our robot is applying an extraordinarily large weight, but [the robot] still works, it still functions.”
In their study published in Science Robotics, the team described that they created the roach-like robot out of a thin sheet of polyvinylidene fluoride coated in an elastic polymer. When an oscillating electric voltage is passed through the robot via an attached wire, its tiny body bends and straightens. This movement forces the robot to ‘leapfrog’ forward on its single front leg, detailed Futurism.
Video Courtesy: UC Berkeley
Moreover, apart from its immense strength, the robot is also very quick for its size, and can move along at a speed of about 20 body lengths per second. This combination, as per the team, could make it perfect for search-and-rescue missions.
“For example, if an earthquake happens, it’s very hard for the big machines, or the big dogs, to find life underneath debris,” researcher Yichuan Wu said, “so that’s why we need a small-sized robot that is agile and robust.”