People often stomp their feet when they see a cockroach. They also have many words to describe this species, including squalid, dirty, ugly, sly, and disgusting. However, now may be the right time to add a new surprising vocabulary for a cockroach: inspiring. This disgusting animal has inspired the researchers from the University of California-Berkeley to create a cockroach robot that will become a pioneer to rescue humankind. Many years of making and competitors for the most sickening and revolting creation emerged from the laboratory; the robo-roach has come!
Why did they choose roaches?
Cockroach is a unique animal. The cockroach’s motor nerve system is amazing. This animal has a very impressive reaction speed to escape from danger. It is Periplaneta Americana, American cockroach species, which became a source of inspiration design for this soft legged robot called CRAM.
This animal has the ability to withstand a load of 900 times its weight without getting hurt. Simply put, the weight is equal to a man with 90 kilograms that will not be downtrodden by a load of 90 tons on the head.
Using a specially designed obstacle, the researchers observed how the cockroaches scurrying, in less than one second it was able to pass through a gap smaller than a quarter of their height. This was done by compressing their exoskeleton became half.
After being in the crack, cockroaches can move quickly, almost 20 body lengths per second, with the legs fully stretched out to the sides. If you enlarge the size of a human, it would be equivalent to about 70 miles per hour, more than the double speed of the fastest runner.
The researchers say cockroach’s height of about half an inch when they run freely, but they will compress their bodies to one-tenth inch to go through the cracks.
That is why the researcher said that this animal is able to adjust to small space and unreachable environment so it is suitable for a rescue mission.
How does it work?
The robot experts have developed a lot of "soft robot" made of flexible polymer which are more similar to worms or octopus, boneless animals that can easily change shape and move through tight spaces. But new research reveals that the hard-bodied creatures can provide another model for soft robotics as well.
The researchers revealed that robot named CRAM was designed as similar as possible to cockroaches. CRAM is reported to have joints and soft shell exoskeleton similar to cockroaches.
Thanks to this similar design, the CRAM reported can pass through 3 mm space and able to move more quickly. In fact, they claim the exoskeletons can withstand a force equivalent to 900 times its body weight.
Besides strong, it is also very flexible, it is suitable for fast moving among the narrow debris.
Its soft legs and flexible shell allow the cockroach to shrink more than half of its size, so it can fit through narrow crevices. This enables rescuers to find and reach victims trapped under collapsed buildings.
This robot can carry a small video, microphones, and other sensors. Given these items on the board, it could gather information from the most unpopular places: a broken gutter, collapsed building, bins, and so forth.
When will this soft legged robot be launched?
Although it sounds brilliant, unfortunately, this robo-roach is still in prototype form. The robot is designed with 7.6 centimeters high and 18 centimeters wide and weighing only 46 grams. This robot was built with techniques like making an origami. Kaushik Jayaram, a biologist at Harvard University who worked on the study while at the University of California-Berkeley optimistic that this cockroach robot prototype will be successful in the market. If they produced it in mass production, the cost will be much cheaper, from USD 100 to only USD 10 per piece. In addition, the researchers plan to conduct further testing and adding more diverse movements such as jumping, turning, and climbing.
So, would you like to be saved by this cockroach robot?