We always seem to take inspiration from nature when building new things. We built airplanes inspired by birds’ flight for example and now scientists have taken a locust as the model for an autonomous surveillance robot.
Why is a locust special enough to inspire the creation of a robot? Although small, locusts are quite amazing creatures. They can jump very far and high and are very elastic. The reason why they manage to jump so high is that they combine their muscle force with mechanical energy. And this is exactly what the scientists are trying to obtain with the robot.
The robot was designed by researchers from the Tel Aviv University and it’s made of steel springs, carbon rods and 3D printed plastic parts. It is about four inches long and weighs less than one ounce.
Similar to a locust, the robot can jump 11.5 feet and has a tiny motor that allows it to withstand high speeds, acting similar to a locust’s legs that propel the insect in the air. The robot has a lithium battery that has enough power for up to 1,000 jumps until it need to be recharged.
Scientists hope that the robot will be used in surveillance and rescue operations. An ‘army’ of locust robots can be created as they could swarm similar to real-life locusts. Being equipped with cameras and GPS systems, they could swarm into enemy territory for ‘espionage’.
The project was started with an investment of approximately $200,000 and the team is hoping to get further funding for development. They believe that since the parts for the locust robots are quite cheap, they might be able to commercialize it soon at a price of only $100.
However, some might fear the power behind these locust robots, as a swarm jumping around spying it’s not something people want to see or experience. Just as many other projects in robotics, the locust robots are a subject of discussion and they may or may not be used for the purposes they were created.
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