Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh have developed tiny bug-inspired robots for accessing hard-to-reach spaces.

To mimic the movements of trap jaw ants, mantis shrimp and fleas that are capable of jumping across surfaces, the researchers built the insect-like robots using polymeric artificial muscle.

Source: University of PittsburghSource: University of Pittsburgh

Although actuation in artificial muscles tends to be slow, the researches achieved jumping actuation with the curved composite design of the polymer muscle, which enables the muscle to produce energy when powered.

According to the researchers the molecular alignment of the artificial muscle mimics insects in that their combined actuation builds energy into the structure, using only a few volts of electricity.

As such, the tiny robots are capable of hopping across water or traversing sand as easily as they would hard surfaces.

The tiny insect-like robots could potentially be used to perform imaging, take water samples or conduct structural inspections in hard-to-reach locations.

The article, Molecularly Directed, Geometrically Latched, Impulsive Actuation Powers Sub-Gram Scale Motility," was published in the journal Advanced Materials Technologies.

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