Don’t let the cute look of this amphibious robot fool you – this little squiggly thing has very serious potential applications, such as search-and-rescue operations in disasters like floods and tsunamis.
Developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the AmphiSAW is being hailed as one of the fastest and most efficient amphibious robots ever.
It travels at a speed of 1.5 body lengths per second (B/s) and swims at 0.74 B/s. It can be outfitted with legs and wheels at the front, helping it speed up over uneven terrain.
The robot’s movement in the water was inspired by flippers, while its dry land moves were inspired by centipedes, said its developers, engineer David Zarrouk and his student Omer Guetta.
“Multiple animals ranging from micrometer scale bacteria to meter-scale vertebrates rely on undulatory motion to propel themselves on land and in the water,” they explain in their study, recently published in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics. “This type of locomotion also appears in amphibious animals such as sea snakes and salamanders.”
“While undulatory motion can be used for both crawling and swimming, it requires the coordination of multiple joints so that only a few robots have the ability to mimic this motion,” they add.
“Here, we report a new minimalistic method for both crawling and swimming based on producing a wave motion in the sagittal (vertical) plane. A robotic prototype AmphiSAW was developed to demonstrate this methodology in a variety of scenarios.”
In addition to search-and-rescue operations, potential applications also include marine agriculture and fish feeding, due to the fact that fish are attracted to the robot.