Caterpillar Robot Rolls Up, Freaks Out, Goes Fast

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We’ve all seen the robots slowly trotting on legs or snaking along. But thankfully the GoQBot, designed by Tufts University, is looking to change that with break-neck speed. Inspired by the reactions of a caterpillar under attack, the GoQBot pops into a roll with an angular velocity of 300 rpm--which looks pretty quick based on the video published by Bioinspiration & Biomimetics--to cover a distance of 25cm.

The bot itself is a 10cm long strip of silicone rubber moved by embedded shape memory alloy coils. For its sensor suite, the GoQBot uses 5 infrared emitters paired with high-speed 3D tracking systems to figure out where it’s going.

This robot looks cool, but it may also have a more practical purpose. The researchers hope that their caterpillar robot design could be used in search and rescue operations. Lead author Huai-Ti Lin from the Department of Biology, Tufts University, added. "Due to the increased speed and range, limbless crawling robots with ballistic rolling capability could be deployed more generally at a disaster site such as a tsunami aftermath. The robot can wheel to a debris field and wiggle into the danger for us."

[Bioinspiration & Biomimetics via Popular Science]

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