Frankly, the last thing that most of us want to hear is that insects are cooperating to do things like climb stairs. Will there be no end to the roboticists fascination with biomimicry? Apparently not.
Small bio-inspired robots have the potential to improve the
effectiveness of robot-assisted search and rescue in disaster
scenarios (e.g. collapsed buildings). Small-scale robots can
navigate through narrow spaces in a collapsed building that
would be otherwise inaccessible. Furthermore, these robots
can be produced cheaply and quickly through the scaled
Smart Composite Microstructures (SCM) process . The
maneuverability and ease of manufacture of SCM robots
allows them to be deployed in large numbers (10-100 units).
Deploying many capable and low-cost robots throughout the
disaster area will help to localize sites that are viable entry
points for rescuers, accelerating the discovery and rescue of
As a result, climbing over step obstacles that are larger
than the robot’s length scale poses a great challenge for an
individual robot. We posit that through multi-robot physical
cooperation, small legged robots can approach the locomotion
capabilities of animals, such as Australian jumping ants,
which are shown cooperatively traversing complex terrain in
the [above] video.
The goal of this paper is to demonstrate that simple
connections between underactuated legged robots can enable
mobility over tall obstacles relative to their size, with no
specialized attachment mechanism required.
There was a marching formation now, and in their own dim body light, the rough-hewn walls of the mine tunnel swam past noiselessly, checkered with misty erratic blobs of shadow. They marched in unison, seven of them, with Dave at the head. They wheeled and turned in macabre simultaneity; and melted through changes of formation with the weird ease of chorus dancers in Lunar Bowl...
Fans of the 1995 novel The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson, may recall a variety of references to tiny nanobots (very small robots) that cooperate on various tasks. They range from mites, tiny cleaning machines, to swarms of airborne nanomachines that work together to form a dog pod grid, a defensive formation to protect suburban enclaves.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/1/2016)