Cockroaches are often hailed as one of nature’s most rugged and durable species. Their ability to traverse virtually any terrain is legendary. So it was only natural, albeit creepy, that a team of researchers from PolyPEDAL Lab, Biomimetic Millisystems Lab, and the University of California–Berkeley used the bugs as inspiration for a tiny robot that skitters through gaps that other bots simply can’t penetrate.
The robot, built with the discoid shell so common among roaches, easily turns itself sideways to squeeze through a gap that otherwise would have stymied it.
As you can see from the back-to-back comparison, the robot behaves exactly like its organic counterpart—and it also somehow manages to be just as creepy.
Thankfully, these tiny crawlers are being designed for search-and-rescue missions. Someday, a tiny robotic bug like this might navigate tight gaps to locate human survivors trapped in difficult-to-reach areas.
Photo via suttonls/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)