What Happens When a Robotic Cockroach Teams Up With a Robotic Bird
What’s better than one robot that can mimic animal movements (or more terrifying, depending on your perspective)? A dynamic duo.
Cockroaches can rapidly scurry across all kinds of terrain, which makes them an ideal model for creating robots that can traverse rough and uneven ground. But cockroach-inspired robots have difficulty getting over tall objects, and a robot that's hefty enough to zip around the ground is too heavy to fly efficiently. Bird-like flying robots, on the other hand, can easily pass over taller obstacles, but small fliers are limited in their powers, and don’t have the battery power to fly for long.
But combining the two kinds of animal-inspired robots into one super-powered, Transformers-style creation can harness the best of both worlds. The Biomimetic Millisystems Lab, a University of California, Berkeley lab that focuses on recreating animal locomotion in robots, recently found a way to combine two of its robots, the H2Bird and the VelociRoACH, into an automated team [PDF].
Provided the VelociRoACH could get up to a speed of about 2.7 mph, it could successfully launch the flying H2Bird on its own, without any human intervention. This way, the fast, efficient cockroach robot could deliver the flying robot to a target on high without wasting precious battery power. Autonomous explorers like this are useful for gathering data and potentially doing construction in dangerous, remote places—like Mars.