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Streamlined Cockroaches Inspire Highly Maneuverable Robots

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Comparing a cockroach to a VelociRoACH robot.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley are trying to design robots that incorporate the ability of cockroaches to roll and scoot through gaps.

Credit: BIoinspiration & Biomimetics

The maneuverability of cockroaches could point the way toward robots that could easily slip through gaps in a clutter of objects.

University of California, Berkeley researchers have found the rounded shells of cockroaches play a key role in their ability to roll and scoot through gaps such as grass and leaves on a forest floor. Their shells have a simple, streamlined shape.

Chen Li and colleagues added shells of various sizes to a cockroach-like robot, and found a similarly rounded, oval carapace enabled it to slip through gaps, while typical box-like robots are often stopped in their tracks.

Li notes most studies look to avoid obstacles by using sensors to map the environment and algorithms to plan a path around them. However, Li says this approach runs into problems in densely cluttered terrain because a clear path cannot be mapped.

Li believes his research could be useful for robots involved in monitoring, search and rescue, and other operations.

From UC Berkeley NewsCenter
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