Researchers have recently developed a robot inspired by cockroaches that can use its body shape to negotiate obstacles.
Researchers at University of California, Berkeley created the robot that uses body streamlining to manoeuvre through a densely cluttered environment just like cockroaches.
Fitted with the characteristic rounded shell of the discoid cockroach, the running robot can perform a roll manoeuvre to slip through gaps between grass-like vertical beam obstacles without the need for additional sensors or motors.
The researchers found that with a rectangular body the robot could rarely traverse the grass-like beams, and frequently collided with the obstacles and became stuck between them.
When the robot was fitted with the cockroach-inspired rounded shell, it was much more likely to successfully move through the obstacle course using a similar roll manoeuvre to the cockroaches. This adaptive behaviour came about with no change to the robot programming, showing that the intelligent behaviour came from the shell.
Researchers hope that the robot could inspire the design of future terrestrial robots to use in a wide variety of scenarios, from monitoring the environment to search and rescue operations.
The study is published in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.