Inspired by how ants move through narrow spaces by shortening their legs, scientists have built a robot that drags its limbs to navigate confined spaces.
The researchers report that the researchers were able to get down and walk quickly through paths that were narrower and shorter than they were on January 20. An advanced intelligent systems. It could also overcome steps and move over grass, loose rock, mulch and crushed stone.
Such generality and adaptability are the main challenges of robotic foot movements, says robotics engineer Feifei Qian, who was not involved in the study. Some robots have special limbs to pass through particular places, but they cannot be squeezed into small spaces.SN: 1/16/19).
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“A design that can adapt to different environments at different scales is much more difficult, as trade-offs between different environments must be considered,” says Qian, from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
For inspiration, the researchers turned to a new study of ants. “Insects are a really nice inspiration for designing robotic systems that have minimal movement but can perform a multitude of movements,” says Nick Gravish, a roboticist at the University of California, San Diego.SN: 8/16/18). Ants adapt their position to crawl through small spaces. Nor are they disturbed by uneven terrain or small obstacles. For example, they drop their legs a bit when they hit something, Gravish says, and the ants continue to move forward quickly.
Graves and his colleagues built a short, powerful robot — about 30 centimeters wide and 20 centimeters long — with four wavy, telescoping limbs. Each member consists of six nested concentric tubes that can draw into each other. In addition, the members are not active or adapted to a change in overall length. But the springs that connect the leg segments allow the legs to automatically contract when the robot navigates a narrow space and extends back in an open space. The goal was to build mechanically intelligent structures rather than algorithmically intelligent robots.
“It’s probably faster than active power; [which] the robot needs to first sense contact with the environment, calculate the appropriate action and send control to its motors,” says Qian, about these legs. Removing the sensing and computing components can also make robots smaller, cheaper and less power-hungry.
The robot can change its body width and height to achieve a greater range of body sizes than other similar robots. The leg segments contracted on themselves to send the robot wiggle through small tunnels and prostrate under low ceilings. This adaptability squeezes the robot into spaces as small as 72 percent of its full width and 68 percent of its full height.
Next, the researchers installed active stiffness springs that connect the leg segments to modulate movement on the terrain without consuming too much power. “That way you can keep a long leg when you’re moving in an open place or over tall objects, but then slip down to the smallest shape in tight spaces,” Graves said.
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Such tiny, tiny robots are easy to produce and can be quickly adapted to explore complex environments. However, although they can walk through different areas, these robots are currently too fragile for search and rescue, reconnaissance or biological monitoring, Gravish says.
The new robot takes a step closer to those goals, but getting there will take more than robotics, Qian says. “Actually implementing these applications requires the integration of design, control, sensing, logic and hardware development.”
But there is no pregnancy. But he wants to connect these experiments to those originally observed in ants and use robots to investigate more about the rules of localization in nature.SN: 1/16/20).
“I really want to understand how small insects can move so quickly through some unpredictable places,” he said. “What is special about their limbs that allows them to move so quickly?”
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