In one of the many labs from the University of California, Berkeley, two little robotic-friends are performing successfully during tests. Inspired by Mother Nature, researchers created a robotic bird and a robotic cockroach that need each other for recon missions.
This type of technology has various applications, but researchers truly believe it could eventually participate in missions that would save human lives. In the paper that presents their invention, the team explains that the robotic bird was needed for the times when the legged robot could have a hard time crossing tall obstacles.
Uneven terrain is not a problem, but when high and inaccessible hurdles create difficulties for the cockroach-like robot, the “bird” takes control. The flying millirobot has no problem overcoming any obstacles with its flapping-wings.
Separately, both VelociRoACH and H2Bird – which are their inventor-given names – cannot accomplish as much as they can together. Basically, the bird uses the roach just like an airplane would use an aircraft carrier, taking off and conducting the given mission.
H2Bird needs the launcher because it only weighs about 13 grams, which means it doesn’t have what it takes to take off on its own. Speed and angles are crucial, which means the bird uses its roach friend to receive a small boost.
Designing a single robot that could travel on the ground as well as fly in the air was much too complicated; instead, the team came up with a co-joint effort from two separate robots, and that’s how H2Bird and VelociRoACH came to life.
In other words, the robotic team cannot perform as well when they are not together, but uniting the two devices made the feat of conquering the sky and the ground easier to approach, both financially and efficiency-wise.
Inventors focused on getting the best features from both robots by combining strength, efficiency and endurance from ground locomotion with the broader range and flexibility of a flying robot.
Using the VelociRoACH as means of transportation for the H2Bird helped decrease the cost of transport by roughly 16 percent, in terms of the energy consumed by the team.
When the roach takes the bird for 80 meters and then the bird flies the next 20 meters, they use 25 percent less energy than if the roach and the bird travel the 80 meters separately and then the bird flies 20 more meters. This proves that cooperative locomotion is more efficient than independent locomotion.
More and more engineers get on board with this kind of approach, as opposed to focusing on cramming all the functionalities into one single system. Making separate systems and creating collaboration scenarios is often the better solution.
Image Source: Tech Times