Can we develop a highly mobile, robust and inexpensive robotic platform inspired by insect locomotion?
Swarm robotics is the study of multi-robot systems consisting of large numbers of primitive robotics, particularly small mobile robots. They can perform in hostile environments and outmaneuver larger vehicles in confined spaces. Large groups of small robots can be used for covert missions or for rescue operations. In the past, a lot of task programming research has been done in swarm robotics and only several projects using actual robots. However, these swarms only use two-wheeled devices designed for flat surfaces and tend to be fairly costly and complex.
This platform will be capable of navigating complex terrain and suitable for deployment in outdoor environments. This design is highly mobile, robust, inexpensive and less than 10 cm in size. Design of these small mobile robots will be based on previous biologically-inspired models and designed using the locomotion principles of the cockroach. Development of a promising swarm paves the way for practical devices. It is also the first step towards miniaturizing these robots and eventually building a micro-robotic swarm.
Different components of the robot were created using various rapid prototyping techniques. We soon found that there were many problems with making customized parts, but it was my first exposure to rapid prototyping and quite the learning experience.
Harvard REU Research Intern
ProJet 3D printer
Silicone cast molding