Photo: Facebook/Naro-nautical robot
The Robot Turtle
Roboticists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have developed a mechanised sea turtle, dubbed “Naro-Tartaruga.”
The aluminium explorer bot, unlike its slow-poke real-life cousins, is actually quite speedy, swimming elegantly through the water at 6.6 feet per second. “This thing could kick some butt,” says Alyssa Danigelis at Discovery News. “All that’s missing is a ninja eye mask.”
Here, nine other robots inspired by animals.
Coming soon to an emergency room near you: Robotic snakes? British researchers have designed a prototype of a robotic snake that would be controlled by a surgeon, and used to search for and remove tumors without invasive surgery. 'They would use bodily orifices or local incisions as points of entry,' says Rob Buckingham of OC Robotics, the firm behind the snake.
Just like a Transformer, there's more than meets the eye with the MorpHex robot. It's a ball. It's a bot. And it sprouts legs to skitter about like a mechanical crab. 'Star Wars destroyer droids and Metroid morph balls might be beyond modern technology,' says Sean Hollister at The Verge, 'but their basic trappings are within reach.'
A Swiss team is betting that the future of construction lies not with men, but machines -- specifically, 'robotic helicopter bees' that can build brick structures from a blueprint without input from humans. While an exciting step forward for robotics and architecture, this is 'bad news for unemployed construction workers hoping for a bright future building next-generation skyscrapers,' says John Roach at MSNBC.
Robots come in all shapes and sizes. But what about a four-legged bot that writhes and wriggles like a headless Gumby? It's part of a 'growing field of soft-bodied robots,' says Alicia Chang for the Associated Press. This 'bendable and versatile' creation was modelled after squids, starfish, and other sea dwellers that lack skeletons -- perfect for squirming through tight spaces.
This slug-like machine takes a novel approach to protecting its sensitive mechanical parts: It encases its wheels and moving bits inside a giant tread. The waterproof 'skin' shields it from the elements 'while still allowing it to get around pretty well,' says Evan Ackerman at IEEE Spectrum. 'It's robust, reliable, and completely protected against dirt and water.'
Robots can do everything else, so why not have them catch bugs, too? This predatory plantbot uses a special polymer membrane coated in gold electrodes to sense bugs that land on its 'leaves,' explains New Scientist. An electrical signal triggered by the light touch of a fly's legs causes the leaves to slam shut like a clam shell, capturing pesky prey within.
Robosnake's segments can be adjusted to different lengths, allowing it to 'twist and turn and propel itself forward,' says Dan Nosowitz at Smart Planet. The slithery robot is also amphibious, with the ability to writhe through water. But some find its potential uses 'unsettling': Doctors hope to use a scaled down version for internal surgical exploration, though not actual surgery like its tumour-zapping successor.
The cockroach is reputedly the most resilient creature on Earth, capable of surviving any disaster. So why not put the bugs -- or at least mechanical versions of them -- to work in hazardous conditions unfit for humans? UC Berkeley scientists hope to use the Dynamic Autonomous Sprawled Hexapod (DASH), which moves like its six-legged inspiration, to find disaster survivors, reports CNET.
A cuddly polar bear robot named Jukusui-kun -- 'deep sleep' in Japanese -- promises to combat snoring and sleep apnea, a dangerous condition that can interrupt troubled sleepers' breathing. Just strap your hand into the furry robot's monitoring device, and get some shuteye. If you have a hard time breathing, your blood oxygen level will drop and Jukusui-kun will realise it. Then the bear-bot will tickle your forehead with its paw.
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