This Robot Cockroach is impossible to crush

Researchers have managed to create a robot the size of a postage stamp inspired by cockroaches. It is impossible to crush the foot. It could someday be used in relief operations.

Researchers often draw inspiration from the world of life to create robots, including insects for small ones. A team of researchers at the University of California at Berkeley has modeled the cockroach to create a robust miniature robot that can continue to work after being crushed underfoot.

The robot consists of a thin sheet of polyvinylidene fluoride, a piezoelectric material that expands and contracts under the effect of an electric current. By wrapping a layer of an elastic polymer, the reaction is converted into a movement of torsion. The researchers then added a paw at the front to allow the robot to move in a movement similar to leapfrog.

The fastest robot of this size

This little robot the size of a postage stamp is able to advance at a speed equivalent to 20 times its own length per second. A pace close to that of a cockroach. It can also carry a peanut, six times its weight. It is the fastest robot among those of the size of an insect. By adding a second leg to the other end, the researchers managed to make it gallop and advance up to three times faster.

One of the advantages of a robot as tiny and robust is to sneak into very small spaces. He could help in relief operations, exploring for example under rubble inaccessible to humans or animals. At present, the robot is connected to a wire, but the team is working on adding a battery to make it autonomous, and a sensor of gas to detect fumes toxically.