A team from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has developed a robot inspired by the African mole-rat and European mole.

The so-called mole-bot is a biomimetic robot that drills holes, mimicking the front teeth of the mole, chiseling away debris and other material.

The robot, which is 25 cm wide and 84 cm long, includes a scapula, fore limbs and an expandable drill bit and features waist inclinable sides that enable the robot to change its direction 360°.

Designed for space exploration and underground applications — for instance mining for coalbed methane or rare earth elements (REE) — the mole-bot includes sensor systems, algorithms and graph-based 3D Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) technology that enables 3D autonomous navigation while it is underground.

According to its developers, the mole-bot is capable of excavating three times faster and six times more accurately than conventional excavating equipment and uses its forelimbs to collect and remove excavated soil.

For more on the mole-bot, watch the accompanying video that appears courtesy of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

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