EU Developing Robot Badgers for Underground Excavation
These days, you can find capable and confident robots driving, flying, swimming, diving, out in space, and even boring through ice. What we haven’t seen a lot of are robots designed to dig underground. There have been a few self-burying robots that use digging to their advantage, but they’re not designed for underground locomotion. This is slightly strange, to be honest, considering how many animals make their living by digging tunnels, and also considering how often we humans need to do useful things underground.
The European Union is sponsoring a project to make underground robotics happen through the development of a “robotic system that will be able to drill, maneuver, localize, map and navigate in the underground space, and which will be equipped with tools for constructing horizontal and vertical networks of stable bores and pipelines.” Called BADGER (roBot for Autonomous nDerGround trenchless opERations, mapping and navigation), it is both an interesting and innovative idea and also the most ridiculous acronym I have ever seen.