Story: Click beetles inspired miniature jumping robot; 15-02-2023;
Oxford Mathematicians have helped develop a miniature robot capable of leaping more than 40 times its body length, the bot was inspired by jumping insects.
Weighing less than 14 grams, the tiny robot was inspired by click beetles, which can jump without using their legs using a ‘snap-buckling instability’ through which an elastic object rapidly jumps from one state to another.
Click beetles jump by rapidly snaping their bodies against the ground to power the leap, their bodies store elastic energy in a flexible hinge between the head and abdomen.
This is initially controlled using an internal latch that can keep the beetle’s body in a bent position but when triggered, the hinge is released, and the beetle’s body unbends extremely quickly, resulting in a powerful jump.
Usually these jumps are helpful in escaping the predator or to moving from a place to other.
The tiny robot was able to jump 40 times its body length which is equivalent to a human jumping up to the 20th floor of a building.
The innovation could be a major step forward in developing miniature robots for a wide range of applications.
The robot mimics the click beetle’s mechanism by having a deformable body containing a stainless-steel beam that is attached to a coiled, artificial muscle made of nylon fibres.
When the muscle contracts, the beam buckles, which stores elastic energy. Ultimately, the beam buckles against a rigid rail, causing it to rapidly invert and hit the ground, releasing the stored energy which powers the jump. According to an article shared by Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford .
• The robot is big breakthrough in the field of tiny insects inspired miniature robots, the bot when furhter developed could be used in natural disaster scenarios, search and rescue missions, hazardous environments, or other situations where larger robotic platforms are inaccessible, and jumping is the most effective way to manoeuvre at a small scale in cramped spaces.
• The team behind the research and development of the robot, anticipate that the design could ultimately enable the production of fully-autonomous, miniature robots, capable of navigating unfamiliar terrain and self-righting themselves.
Their ability to access small spaces could make them useful in precision agriculture and performing maintenance on large machines where human reach is limited.