Let me get this out of the way right up top. Bugs don’t scare me. As in, “I may shriek if one lands on me, but I’m chasing after it to the death.” On the other hand, bugs freak me out, because they look like that, all buggy and not according to human anatomy and all.
Which brings me to the VelociRoACH, the University of California, Berkeley’s 10-cm-long millirobot, which mimics the rapid leg motions of a real cockroach in order to attain speeds that make it, when adjusted for size, one of the fastest robots in the world. It weighs 30 grams and has legs that hit the ground about 15 times a second, during which time it has already traveled 2.7 meters.
To reiterate, like an annoying cockroach that doesn’t stop to think I can’t easily kill it if it runs under the couch, the little cardboard bastard shoots 26 times its own length across the ground, and can even mimic the way a roach handles obstacles in its path, by keeping three legs on the ground at all times for stability. For stability, and to make damned sure I know that both robots and cockroaches will still be around long after I have become the dust beneath the couch.
The researchers hope to use the VelociRoACH to assist with search and rescue. Duncan Haldane of UC Berkeley explains that “The idea is that we can build a huge number of very cheap, bio-inspired robots with remarkable mobility to quickly find people trapped in a disaster site.”
Next, they’re going to have a bunch of maggot robots that are trained to sit quietly inside a Chinese take-out box before coming alive after a vampire Keifer Sutherland asks how I like them.