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Caterpillars Inspire New Movements in Soft Robots

Huai-Ti Lin

Tufts University Ph.D. student Huai-Ti Lin

Photo courtesy of Tufts University

A strategy that caterpillars employ to escape predators could be used to improve the speed of soft-bodied search-and-rescue robots, say Tufts University researchers.

The researchers have developed a robot that mimics ballistic rolling, the highly dynamic process caterpillars use to rapidly curl themselves into a wheel and propel themselves. They designed a 10 centimeter-long soft-bodied robot made out of silicone rubber and actuated by embedded shape memory alloy coils, naming it GoQBot because it forms a Q shape before rolling away at more than half a meter per second.

Designed to replicate the morphologies of the caterpillar, GoQBot benefits from a significant degree of mechanical coordination and is able to conform its body in less than 100 milliseconds. "GoQBot demonstrates a solution by reconfiguring its body and could therefore enhance several robotic applications such as urban rescue, building inspection, and environmental monitoring," says Tufts' Huai-Ti Lin.

From Institute of Physics
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Abstracts Copyright © 2011 Information Inc. External Link, Bethesda, Maryland, USA 


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