The limbless robot spontaneously reacts to its environment and could be used in search-and-rescue efforts

Scarlett Evans, Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

February 19, 2024

2 Min Read
The design was tested in a series of small-scale obstacle courses
The design was tested in a series of small-scale obstacle coursesGeorgia Tech

Researchers from Georgia Tech have created a snakelike robot, which they said could be used to navigate collapsed buildings and assist survivors in search-and-rescue efforts.

The team sought to improve the mobility of limbless robots as previous iterations lacked the agility of their real-life counterparts.

“Even the most advanced limbless robots have not come close to moving with the agility and versatility of worms and snakes in difficult terrain,” the team said. “We wanted to explore this discrepancy in performance. But instead of looking to neuroscience for an answer, we turned to biomechanics.”

To achieve this, the team modified the movement used by snakes and worms to move the robot through terrain.

Rather than fit sensors on the robot’s body to help it respond to its surroundings based on what it encounters, the robot’s design was created to spontaneously respond to its surroundings.

The resulting design, known as mechanically intelligent limbless robot (MILLR), has two independently controlled cables that pull left and right, as a snake’s muscles move bilaterally to cause undulation. When the robot comes into contact with an object, it can either remain slack or bend to move around it, depending on the object’s force.

“We found this method allows the robot to spontaneously move around obstacles without having to sense its surroundings and actively change its body posture to comply with the environment,” the team wrote.

Related:16-Leg Robot Created for Search, Rescue, Space Exploration

The design was tested in a series of small-scale obstacle courses, with positive results. The team said its design navigated the course “about as effectively as real worms.”

In the future, the team said it would look at designing robots based on a range of other animals for applications ranging from search and rescue to off-planet exploration.

About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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