CRAM robot inspired by cockroaches will be vital in search & rescue operations
Cockroaches are the creepiest insects that nobody dares to love, isn’t it? But scientists at University of California Berkley have taken interest in this ugly insect to have an insight on its Houdini-like tricks and build a robotic cockroach. Inspired by their ability to squeeze their body to get through the tiniest of crevice, American cockroaches have capabilities that can be emulated in a robotic form for search and rescue operations in case of natural calamities like earthquakes or tornados. Cockroaches have the unique capability to position their legs to the sides and their shell acts like a sponge to take 900 times impact of their body weight.
Since cockroaches can cram into impossible spots, therefore scientists like to call their robotic cockroach as CRAM that is Compressible Robot with Articulated Mechanisms. Just like its real version, the robot can crawl even when pressed to half its size. Kaushik Jayaram who is heading this study found that when the cockroach measuring half an inch tall is squished to one-tenth of an-inch, they can still run freely. Using this knowledge, Jayaram build cheap cockroach robot using origami-like manufacturing method.
The current CRAM prototype version has flexible shell and legs which allows it to move forward at a fast pace even when it is in a crammed space. The motive to develop these robotic cockroaches it to have a swarm of search and rescue robots that can go through even the tiniest of spaces.
According to Kaushik Jayaram
This is only a prototype, but it shows the feasibility of a new direction using what we think are the most effective models for soft robots, that is, animals with exoskeletons. Insects are the most successful animals on earth. Because they intrude nearly everywhere, we should look to them for inspiration as to how to make a robot that can do the same.