Caterpillar Robot Rolls Up, Freaks Out, Goes Fast

We’ve all seen the robots slowly trotting on legs or snaking along. But thankfully the GoQBot, designed by Tufts University, is looking to change that with break-neck speed. Inspired by the reactions of a caterpillar under attack, the GoQBot pops into a roll with an angular velocity of 300 rpm--which looks pretty quick based on the video published by Bioinspiration & Biomimetics--to cover a distance of 25cm.

The bot itself is a 10cm long strip of silicone rubber moved by embedded shape memory alloy coils. For its sensor suite, the GoQBot uses 5 infrared emitters paired with high-speed 3D tracking systems to figure out where it’s going.

This robot looks cool, but it may also have a more practical purpose. The researchers hope that their caterpillar robot design could be used in search and rescue operations. Lead author Huai-Ti Lin from the Department of Biology, Tufts University, added. "Due to the increased speed and range, limbless crawling robots with ballistic rolling capability could be deployed more generally at a disaster site such as a tsunami aftermath. The robot can wheel to a debris field and wiggle into the danger for us."

[Bioinspiration & Biomimetics via Popular Science]

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