A team of researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a centipede-inspired robot capable of traversing difficult terrain.

To mimic the scurrying nature of centipedes with their tens to hundreds of legs that can traverse various terrains without interruption, the team developed a new theory of multi-legged locomotion and built many-legged robotic models. The robots featuring redundant legs moved across uneven surfaces without added sensing or control technology.

Source: Georgia Institute of TechnologySource: Georgia Institute of Technology

To reach this conclusion, the researchers increased the leg count of the robots. Testing robots with four, six, eight and 18 legs, demonstrated that adding legs increased the robot’s ability to move across challenging surfaces — a concept dubbed spatial redundancy.

As the leg count increased, according to the researchers, the robots reportedly became more agile and could keep moving should one of the legs fail.

Further, unlike bipedal and quadruped robots that rely on sensors, the centipede-inspired robots rely on redundancy, making them appropriate for agricultural, space exploration and search and rescue applications.

"With an advanced bipedal robot, many sensors are typically required to control it in real time," the researchers explained. "But in applications such as search and rescue, exploring Mars, or even micro robots, there is a need to drive a robot with limited sensing. There are many reasons for such sensor-free initiative. The sensors can be expensive and fragile, or the environments can change so fast that it doesn't allow enough sensor-controller response time."

The centipede-inspired robots are detailed in the article, "Multilegged Matter Transport: A Framework for Locomotion on Noisy Landscapes," which appears in the journal Science.

To contact the author of this article, email mdonlon@globalspec.com