25 October 2011

Robotics Roach to the Rescue

As we all well know, cockroaches can reach just about anywhere. They are small, quick, and stable, as well as able to crawl, jump, and, for some, fly. For this reason, the researchers at U.C. Berkeley's Biomimetic Milli System Lab built DASH Plus Wings, an interesting little robot that tries to imitate the stability, speed, and, in some ways, flight, of our friendly roaches. Take a look (courtesy of UC Berkeley News Center):

Very effective, I must say. Especially when looking at the evolutionary "top down" or "bottom up" science of flight.

 I have notice that generally, robotics branches into two ideas.
  1. Robots try to become more and more like natural organisms living today. Achieving the ability to make efficient decisions is the main topics discussed in artificial intelligence and behavior based robotics. Trying to make robots with the ability to fly, swim, and walk are also falls under achieving organism-based actions.
  2. Robots extend to places humans can not go (i.e mars rovers, deep undersea autonomous robot) and extend the grasp of human knowledge.
This article obviously leans to the number one theory. However, it rightly does so, addressing the rescue potential of these robots, which has nothing to do with grasping knowledge. The need for wings to conquer any terrain is correctly approached using the first theory, in which birds have an easy command over both land and air. Next, of course, comes all three: land, air, and sea.

Oh, and it throws in a little reference to swarm robotics, saying that fleets of "50 or 100" of these could go out on rescue operations.

Video and article from the U.C. Berkeley News Center. Article by Sarah Wang (again).

Boy, do these Berkeley guys get it right.

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