Researchers have taken inspiration from the mole crab to imagine a new kind of robot. It is able to dig vertically in the ground and bury itself. It could be used to probe soils.
More and more robots manage to navigate in the air, in water and on the ground, but few are able to evolve underground. This is the specialty of Embur, a robot created by researchers from the University of California at Berkeley. They published the details of their creation in the journal Frontiers in Robotics & AI.
The researchers were inspired byRetired analog, or mole crab, a small decapod crustacean that burrows in the sand and can burrow completely. The Embur robot is able to dig vertically with its anisotropic legs, in other words which exert a higher force in one direction than in the other.
This mole crab-inspired robot uses its paws to dig into the ground. (Video in English, enable automatic translation of subtitles.) © Berkeley Engineering
Applications on Earth and in space
The second problem to solve was to prevent the sand from infiltrating the joints. For this, they were once again inspired by the crustacean. ” We created a cuticle, which is similar to the arthrodial membrane found on mole crabs said Laura Treers, who conducted the research. ” It is a soft and flexible material that lines the joint openings to prevent grains from entering inside, while allowing freedom of movement. »
According to the researchers, the robot will provide a better understanding of burrowing animals. It can also be used to probe soils for agriculture, geotechnics, marine data collection, and construction. Funded in part by NASA, this kind of little robot could even be sent to the Moon or Mars to explore under the surface and collect samples.