The STAR (Sprawl Tuned Autonomous Robot) is a 3D-printed robot modeled after an insect's ability to squeeze into even the tiniest spaces. It was developed by students at UC Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab. the STAR is able to flatten its legs down to slip under a small gap and then raise them up again to climb over larger obstacles.
(STAR (Sprawl Tuned Autonomous Robot))
With the exception of the electronics, each component of the STAR was built using a ProJet 3000 3D printer, meaning a full robot can be manufactured quickly and cheaply. The main core of the bot holds its control board and battery, which are connected to the six individual legs that propel it forward. Each of the legs has three spokes measuring 2.8 cm (1.1 in) with a 90-degree gap between them, which allow it to crawl over obstacles 4 cm (1.6 in) higher than if it just had wheels.
A brushed DC motor provides motion to each set of legs, while a 300 mA/hr LiPo 4V battery gives it enough power to run at full speed for 30 minutes on a single charge. Altogether, the tiny robot weighs just 73 g (2.6 oz).
What really sets the STAR apart from other robots, though, is its ability to adjust its sprawl angle (i.e. the angle between its body and legs) over a range of 150 degrees to adapt to different situations. Depending on the angle, the robot can move faster over different surfaces, climb over taller objects, or slip into narrow passageways, among other tasks.
At a sprawl angle of zero degrees, the robot lays flat on the ground and has a height of just 2.5 cm (1 in), a length of only 12 cm (4.7 in) and a width of 11 cm (4.3 in). It can't actually move in this position, but by changing its sprawl just a few degrees, the robot's legs can touch the ground to move underneath an obstacle, such as a door, without gaining much height. At a 90-degree sprawl, the robot can fit through smaller vertical spaces and travel over rough terrain more easily.
Fans of Steven Spielberg's film Minority Report recall the spider robots, which were able slip easily under doors. Start the video below at about 1 minutes.
Via Gizmag; thanks to an anonymous reader for contributing the tip on this story. I'm traveling this week, and it's much harder for me to look for stories.
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