Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have created a snake like robot that can “swim” through sand and other material. Once again, a robot is inspired by nature. This time the robot is inspired by the sandfish lizard, for it’s ability to swim through sand.
The researchers are looking to create a robot that could be useful in search and rescue operations after a natural disaster like an earthquake or a landslide.
Using a variety of wedge shaped heads, the researchers measured forces like lift and drag to come up with the best wedge shape to move the robot up and down.
They found that when the sandfish-inspired head with a leading edge that formed an angle of 155 degrees with the horizontal plane was set flat, negative lift force was generated and the robot moved downward into the media. As the tip of the head was raised from zero to 7 degrees relative to the horizontal, the lift force increased until it became zero. At inclines above 7 degrees, the robot rose out of the medium.
The study was conducted by Daniel Goldman, Ryan Maladen, Yang Ding and Andrew Masse from the Georgia Institute of Technology. They also had assistance from Paul Umbanhowar at Northwestern University.
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