Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

The Army Has Made a Robot Cockroach

Published on February 9, 2016 by   ·   No Comments

Researchers from Berkeley today announced the creation of a robot cockroach, called the compressible robot with articulated mechanisms, or CRAM, funded in part by the Army Research Laboratory under the Micro Autonomous System and Technology or MAST, program.

Why does the military need roboroaches? Put aside your feelings of revulsion towardperiplaneta americana and consider for a moment the design miracle that is the American cockroach. Ever seen a cockroach scurry from the light into an incredibly tight crevice? The American cockroach is about stands 12.52 mm tall but can squeeze itself down to as small as 3 mm in height, about two stacked pennies, when it has to find cover. That shape change doesn’t even slow the bug down when it runs.

The Berkeley creation is larger, about palm-sized, but still possess this unique, shape-shifting trait. “Like the animal, the robot successfully locomotes in vertically confined spaces by compressing its body in half (54%; 75–35 mm) and benefits from possessing a low friction shell,” the authors write in their paper, which appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science today. “We have been able to make our palm-sized, confined-space crawling robot completely autonomous in power and control, while weighing just 46 g including onboard electronics and battery.”

CRAM it isn’t the military’s first foray into robotic or semi-robotic insects. The robot fly funded by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, in the video below weighs just 60 milligrams and stands at 3 centimeters tall. But steering remains a real issue.

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