Cockroach copy

UC Berkeley video by Stephen McNally

If the sight of a skittering bug makes you squirm, you may want to look away — a new insect-sized robot created by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, can scurry across the floor at nearly the speed of a darting cockroach.

And it’s nearly as hardy as a cockroach, too. Try to squash this robot under your foot, and more than likely, it will just keep going.

“Most of the robots at this particular small scale are very fragile. If you step on them, you pretty much destroy the robot,” said Liwei Lin, a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley and senior author of a new study that describes the robot. “We found that if we put weight on our robot, it still more or less functions.”

Small-scale robots like these could be advantageous in search and rescue missions, squeezing and squishing into places where dogs or humans can’t fit, or where it may be too dangerous for them to go, said Yichuan Wu, first author of the paper, who completed the work as a graduate student in mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley through the Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute partnership.

Way cool…and way useful.

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