AI News, Single-Actuator Wave Robot Zips Around With High-Speed Wiggles

Single-Actuator Wave Robot Zips Around With High-Speed Wiggles

Every time we come back from a robotics conference thinking, “Okay, that’s it, people are out of ideas, there are no more unique ways of getting robots to move,” someone comes along and proves us wrong with something completely unexpected and cool.

Biomimetics, Zarrouk describes his latest innovative robot: SAW, or SingleActuator Wave-like robot, “a novel bioinspired robot which can move forward or backward by producing a continuously advancing wave.” Basically, SAW moves around by doing the worm nonstop.

Earthworms, on the other hand, move in a more stretchy/grippy/contract-y way(a longitudinal wave).The kind of wave locomotion that SAW uses (a transverse wave) is much more common in ocean animals, and at very small scales (like tiny organisms that swim using flagella).

The appeal is that it’s a very simple motion, leading to a “minimalistic approach and high performance,” although figuring out how to make it work was quite a challenge, as Zarrouk told us: “I had been developing robots with minimalistic approach and high performance for many years.

I developed a worm robot, but realized that wave locomotion could be excellent for self-propelled systems in the digestive system, and that a simple design with one motor will allow to shrink it enough to locomote inside the intestines.

A single motor rotates a rigid helix (the robot’s “spine”), which is embedded inside a series of rigid 3D-printed plastic links that are flexible in one dimension, kind of like a bicycle chain.

At first glance, it looks like the speed of the robot is firmly constrained by how fast the wave travels, but the researchers have been able to boost the speed by 13 percentover the wave speed by adding sets of spine-type things to each link.

Single actuator wave-like robot (SAW): design, modeling, and experiments.

In this paper, we present a single actuator wave-like robot, a novel bioinspired robot which can move forward or backward by producing a continuously advancing wave.

The robot has a unique minimalistic mechanical design and produces an advancing sine wave, with a large amplitude, using only a single motor but with no internal straight spine.

Based on the optimization of the kinematic model, and accounting for the mechanical constraints, we have designed and built multiple versions of the robot with different sizes and experimentally tested them (see movie).

First wave-propelled robot swims, crawls and climbs using a single, small motor

SAW can climb over obstacles or crawl through unstable terrain like sand, grass and gravel, reaching a top speed of 22.5 inches (57 centimeters) per second, five times faster than similar robots.

For example, it can be scaled up for search and rescue and maintenance, or miniaturized to a diameter of one centimeter or less to travel within the human body for medical purposes, such as imaging and biopsies of the digestive system.'

To find a way to replicate wave locomotion that mimics miniature biological systems, Zarrouk partnered with graduate students Ilanit Waksman, who researches swimming in viscous liquids (a movement that mimics small biological organisms) and Nir Dagani, who researches movement on flexible and slippery surfaces to model the locomotion of robots within the human body.

Crawling, swimming and climbing with a 3D printed wave producing robot (SAW). (do the worm dance)

SAW (single actuator wave-like robot) is the first robot that produces a pure wave-like motion with a single motor. The robot was developed for medical, industrial and search and rescue purposes....