Bio-medical engineers have created a robot that moves so fast that it becomes an insect with its & # 39; tongue & # 39; can catch – after he has studied the freshest amphibians of nature for inspiration.
Chameleons, salamanders and toads were the inspiration for a new series of soft robots that can perform automated tasks at a fast pace.
Industrial and biomedical engineers studied the stored elastic energy that the animals use to launch their sticky tongues to replicate the fast, non-robotic movement.
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Catching unsuspecting insects at a body length of one and a half body removed by the rapid movements of the amphibians inspired researchers at Purdue University & College, Indiana, USA.
Like the tongue attack of a chameleon, a prestressed pneumatic soft robot is able to extend five times its own length, capture a live fly beetle and retrieve it in just 120 milliseconds
Catching unsuspecting insects up to one-and-a-half height away from the rapid movements of the amphibians helped researchers at Purdue University & College of Engineering, Indiana, USA to develop a new class of completely soft robots.
These bio-inspired robots are manufactured using stretchable polymers similar to rubber bands, with internal pneumatic channels that expand under pressure.
Elastic energy is stored in the components of the robot by stretching their body in one or more directions during manufacture.
Like the tongue attack of a chameleon, a pre-stressed pneumatic soft robot is able to extend five times its own length, capture a live fly beetle and retrieve it in just 120 milliseconds.
Ramses Martinez, professor at Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at the College of Engineering at Purdue University, said: “We believed that if we could fabricate robots that could perform such large, high-speed amplitude movements like chameleons, there would be many automated tasks could be completed more accurately and in a much faster way & # 39;
& # 39; Conventional robots are usually built with hard and heavy components that slow their movement due to inertia. We wanted to meet that challenge. & # 39;
Professor Martinez said that these new pre-stressed soft robots have several important advantages over existing soft robot systems and can even catch live insects
The lightweight components of the robots make them capable of fast movements, here the internal pneumatic channel expands under pressure (left). The prestressed robot relaxes and returns when the pressure is removed (right)
Professor Martinez said that these new prestressed soft robots have several important advantages over existing soft robot systems.
First, they excel in grasping, holding and manipulating a wide variety of objects at high speed.
They can use the elastic energy stored in their pre-stressed elastomeric layer to hold objects up to 100 times their weight without using external energy.
Their soft skin can easily be patterned with anti-slip microspikes, which significantly increases their traction and allows them to sit upside down for longer periods and facilitates the capture of live prey.
Because the soft arms of the grippers can adapt to the object, this means that a large contact surface is achieved so that it can be picked up at high speed and the robot can grab the object & # 39; without exerting force
& # 39; We anticipate that the design and manufacturing strategies presented here will pave the way for a new generation of fully soft robots that can utilize elastic energy to achieve speeds and movements that are currently not accessible to existing robots, & # 39; said Martinez.
Many birds, such as the three-fingered woodpecker, use the elastic energy stored in the tense tendons at the back of their legs, preventing them from falling from a perch while sleeping without using their own energy.
The anatomy of these birds has served as an example to manufacture robotic grippers that are capable of zero force capable of supporting up to 100 times their weight and descending upside down from angles of up to 116 degrees.
The chameleon's sticky tongue is seemingly resilient and able to catch the fastest of all flies.
Because the soft arms of the grippers can adjust to the object, this means that a large contact area is achieved that facilitates high-speed capture and allows the robot to & # 39; grasp the object & # 39; without exerting force.
Some factories also know how to use elastic energy to move at high speed with the help of & # 39; pedal mechanisms & # 39 ;.
The Venus flytrap uses the elastic energy stored in its curved leaves to quickly close to prey exploring their inner surface.
Inspired by the fall mechanism of the Venus flytrap and studying how lizards catch insects, the Purdue team also created a soft robotic Venus flytrap, which closes within just 50 milliseconds after receiving a short stimulus under pressure.
This technology is published in the October 25 edition of Advanced Functional Materials.
HOW CHAMELEONS CATCH THEIR PROY
The small panther chameleon can shoot its tongue to almost twice its height in just over 0.07 seconds.
Like all chameleons, it has a bone in the base of its tongue that fixes the powerful muscles, along with special tissue that works effectively like a feather.
When a muscle called the long accelerator contracts, the retractor relaxes muscles.
This causes other muscles to press against collagen springs, giving it incredible power and speed.
The tip of the tongue is a spherical muscle ball and when it touches its prey, it forms a small suction cup to grab a fly, for example.
With eyes that work independently like turrets, the remarkable reptile also has a full 360-degree arc around it.
In July, scientists revealed that the chameleon brain can coordinate its eyes to help them focus on prey even though they move independently.
This allows the animal to flicker from stereo to monovision while hunting.
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