On November 30, scientists at Harvard University in the United States created a new flexible robot, which has a very soft body and can move in a very narrow space by crawling like a worm with a relatively high speed contact surface, such as the mating surface of a sliding bearing and the tooth working surface of a gear
this is an increasingly popular research field: a recent development in the field of software robots. Scientists are constantly drawing inspiration from nature to create robot products that are far more flexible and multifunctional than those of traditional metal counterparts. The Harvard research team, led by chemist George M. Whitesides, drew inspiration from squid, starfish and other animals without hard bones to develop a small, four legged rubber robot
in recent years, scientists have been trying to deal with some sticky and sometimes strange robot design concepts. They hope to create a new type of robot, which will be able to drill into places that are difficult to reach by human or traditional robots, such as earthquake disaster relief or battlefield reconnaissance. In an email interview, Matthew Walter, a robotics expert at the Massachusetts Institute of technology, said: "the flexibility of this kind of soft robot allows them to enter a narrow space that traditional robots cannot reach."
earlier this year, a team from Tufts University showed a worm robot with a length of only 10 cm developed by them. It is made of silicone rubber and can turn on the display switch to climb into a small ball and push the ball forward
the research of Harvard University was carried out under the research funding project of the U.S. Department of defense. The progress was published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday. The human body of this software machine is about 12.7 cm long, and the manufacturing process took two months. Its limbs can be controlled independently, and compressed air is input into its limbs for corresponding drive through manual or computer automatic control. This makes this new robot have unparalleled flexibility, and can crawl or slide freely on the ground
researchers tested its flexibility: they placed a glass plate less than 1.9 away from the ground, and let the small robot try to climb under. As a result, the scientists successfully controlled the robot to cross this extremely narrow gap back and forth 15 times. And in most cases, it takes less than a minute to pass through the bottom of the whole glass plate
researchers plan to further improve its speed performance, but they are glad that it has not been damaged due to continuous thermal expansion and contraction. "It's strong enough," said Robert shepherd, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University He pointed out that the robot can adapt to various surface materials and operate normally on them, including felt, gravel, mud, and even jelly, according to the Research Report of the international society of automotive engineers. However, it also has defects: at present, robots must rely on an external power line for power supply. Scientists hope to find a way to realize the built-in power supply, so that it can be put into practical application
Barry trimmer, a neurobiologist at Tufts University and a member of the worm robot project team at Tufts University, said: "there are still many challenges to face in the field of software robots, and there is no shortcut to solve these problems."
robot expert Carmel Majidi led a number of sock companies at Carnegie Mellon University to guide the software machinery laboratory in the use of sock materials. He believes that although this achievement is based on previous research, it is still very innovative. "This is a simple concept, but it seems that they have well simulated the biological movement patterns in nature," he said
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