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Researchers working for DARPA have created a soft robot that can walk and change colors.
The work is performed under DARPA’s Maximum Mobility and Manipulation or M3 program headed up by Gill Pratt.
This silicone robot that costs under $100 can even change it’s own temperature.
Gill Pratt states:
DARPA is developing a suite of robots that draw inspiration from the ingenuity and efficiency of nature. For defense applications, ingenuity and efficiency are not enough—robotic systems must also be cost effective. This novel robot is a significant advance towards achieving all three goals.
As you can see in the video below, the robot can blend into its surroundings by acting like a chameleon and changing it’s color.
A robot called GoQBot, designed by Hual-Tin Lin from Tufts University, was inspired by a caterpillar. We have seen other robots inspired by nature, like Stanford’s gecko inspired robot, but most are made of hard materials, like hard metal or plastic.
GoQBot is soft, made out of silicone rubber and, like the caterpillars, it can curl up and shoot out very fast.
Analyzing the whole body kinematics and 2D ground reaction forces at the robot ground anchor reveals about 1G of acceleration and more than 200 rpm of angular velocity.
With a robot like this, of course the research was funded in part by DARPA. Click through for a video of all a the rolling action.
Boston Dynamics, the makers of Big Dog, have received more funding from DARPA. This time they are working on a robot inspired by a cheetah, as shown in the image here.
Marc Railbert, the president of Boston Dynamics, had this to say about the Cheetah robot:
There’s no fundamental reason why it can’t go as fast as the animals (60 to 70 mph), but it will take a while to get there.
Right now, the goal is to produce a Cheetah like robot in 20 months that can go at 20 – 30 mph. The robot will also be able to make tight corners and stop abruptly. As of yet, there is no specific use for the Cheetah robot. DARPA just wants the technology developed and then will find a use for it. I wonder who would win in a race, the Terminator or the Cheetah? I think that all depends on if Boston Dynamics ever gets the robot to run 70 mph, then it would be time to be afraid, very afraid, of the robots.
AeroVironment, makers of many vehicles such as Helios and Global Observer, has now created the world’s first robotic hummingbird for DARPA. AeroEnvironment called the robot a Nano Air Vehicle during development and is now calling it a Nano Hummingbird. The robot has the following specs:
The hand-made prototype aircraft has a wingspan of 16 centimeters (6.5 inches) tip-to-tip and has a total flying weight of 19 grams (2/3 ounce), which is less than the weight of a common AA battery. This includes all the systems required for flight; batteries, motors, communications systems and video camera. The aircraft can be fitted with a removable body fairing, which is shaped to have the appearance of a real hummingbird. The aircraft is larger and heavier than an average hummingbird, but is smaller and lighter than the largest hummingbird currently found in nature.
Check out the full AeroVironment press release.
Photo courtesy of AeroEnvironment.
Also, see our post from about a year and a half ago, when they were not quite done building Nano Hummingbird.
Click through for all the action in a video.
The round bot uses a concept called “jamming skin enabled locomotion” to move around.
Hopefully the robot will be able to squeeze into small spaces or at least under locked doors when it is done.
Click through for a video of the dough like robot in action.