Researchers are building the world’s fastest “soft” robot, which can travel more than THREE times faster than the previous record holder using movements that mimic a cheetah
- North Carolina State University researchers built a new “soft” robot using silicone bands to mimic a cheetah’s gait
- It is only 2.7 inches long but travels almost three times its body length per second
- Team believes it could be used in swarms for search and rescue missions
North Carolina State University engineers hit a new record for the fastest software robot.
A team from the university’s mechanical and aerospace engineering department has created a robot capable of moving 2.7 times its own body length every second, more than three times faster than the previous record of 0.8 times body length. per second.
The little robot – it weighs only 1.5 ounces and is 2.7 inches long – was designed to work like a cheetah, with four folded legs and a long flexible silicone torso.
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A team of engineers from North Carolina State University has developed a small “ soft ” robot modeled on a cheetah, which uses silicone bands to expand and contract in a galloping movement that imitates the movement of a cheetah
“We were inspired by the cheetah to create a type of soft robot that has a” bistable “spine, which means that the robot has two stable states,” said Jie Yin of the state of North Carolina. Eurekalert.
“We can quickly switch between these stable states by pumping air through channels that line the robot with flexible silicone. Switching between the two states releases a significant amount of energy, allowing the robot to quickly exert force against the ground.
“This allows the robot to gallop on the surface, which means that its feet leave the ground.”
The field of soft robotics was founded on the idea of using more flexible materials to try to make robots modeled on natural shapes to make them more dynamic and better able to move on a variety of terrains.
To this end, the team also demonstrated that their little cheetah-inspired robot could also climb steep slopes, albeit at a slower speed than when traveling on a flat surface.
The team hopes that their design could become the basis for a whole new category of flexible robots, which they call “Exploiting elastic instabilities for amplified performance” or LEAP.
The robot has traveled 2.8 times its own body length every second, more than three times the previous record holder for the fastest soft robot
The team believes that the robots could potentially be useful in swarms to help carry out urgent search and rescue missions
The researchers also tested the robot’s ability to work in larger groups and showed that with gripper-like arms, the robot swarms were able to lift objects weighing up to 22 pounds.
In the future, Yin hopes that these dynamic capabilities could help robots fulfill several different productive roles in society.
“Potential applications include search and rescue technologies, where speed is essential, and industrial manufacturing robotics,” says Yin.
“For example, imagine a faster production line robotics, but still capable of handling fragile objects.”