Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dancing Gumby Robot

What do breakdance moves, Gumby and robots have in common? More than you might think: Harvard scientists have created a Gumby-like robot that can do the worm and navigate through tight spaces. You can watch the soft-bodied robot in action below. Pretty awesome!

The robot does the worm under an obstacle. Image courtesy Robert Shepherd/Harvard University via AP.

Inspired by skeleton-less animals like jellyfish, worms and starfish, the team of researchers designed the robot to use compressed air to move its appendages. Equipped with four legs and a core, the robot can perform a variety of movements, ranging from the worm-like movement above to a crawling motion.

Adding pressure to parts of the robot cause it to bend and undulate. Varying the pressure in different parts of the robot allows for the different movements. For instance, higher pressure (7 psi) was used to make the robot do the worm, while the crawling motion seen below required a slightly smaller pressure (4 psi).

The robot can perform a variety of movements. Image courtesy Robert Shepherd/Harvard University via Chemistry World.

Scientists hope emerging technology in soft robotics will make future robots cheaper, easier to build and more natural in movement.

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