Student-made device sends obstacle warnings to mechanical bug’s brain
Can a robot learn to navigate like a cockroach? To help researchers find out if a mechanical device can mimic the pesky insects behavior, a Johns Hopkins engineering student has built a flexible, sensor-laden antenna. Like a cockroachs own wriggly appendage, the artificial antenna sends signals to a wheeled robots electronic brain, enabling the machine to scurry along walls, turn corners and avoid obstacles.
The work is important because most robotic vehicles that are sent into dangerous locations rely on artificial vision or sonar systems to find a safe path. But robotic eyes dont operate well in low light, and sonar systems can be confused by polished surfaces. As an alternative, Noah J. Cowan, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins, is turning to the sense of touch, drawing inspiration from bugs that move quite skillfully through dark rooms with varied surfaces.
Phil Sneiderman | EurekAlert!
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