ERJ staff report (DS)
Medfors, Massachusetts -- Scientsts at Tufts University in Massachusetts have developed a robot which can move, based on how a caterpillar moves. The body is made from silicone rubber with a couple of shape-memory alow reinforcing armatures. It accelerates to around 0.6 m/sec in less than 250 ms.
This robot, called GoQBot, closely mimics caterpillar rolling. In the abstract of a scientific paper, the authors, Huai-Ti Lin and Barry Trimmer of Tufts, say, "As a novel rolling robot, GoQBot demonstrates how morphing can produce new modes of locomotion. Furthermore, mechanical coupling of the actuators improves body coordination without sensory feedback. Such coupling is intrinsic to soft-bodied animals because there are no joints to isolate muscle-generated movements. Finally, GoQBot provides an estimate of the mechanical power for caterpillar rolling that is comparable to that of a locust jump. "
The paper is published online today in the June 2011 issue of Bioinspiration & Biomimetics Volume 6 Number 2
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Abstract from Bioinspiration & Biomimetics
Video of caterpillars and robots from YouTube