RoMeLa's Chemically-Actuated ChIMERA Robot Moves Like Amoeba

Researchers at Virginia Tech are developing an amoeba-inspired robot that moves by using a technique known as whole-skin locomotion

1 min read

Apparently Professor Dennis Hong at the Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) at Virginia Tech is exploring robotic locomotion not only with strange multi-legged robots but also with robots with no legs at all.

When we wrote about iRobot's blob 'bot, I should have known that others were working on similar chemical actuation projects. It turns out Professor Hong and his team are developing an amoeba-inspired robot called ChIMERA (Chemically Induced Motion Everting Robotic Amoeba), which can slide using a technique known as whole-skin locomotion.

Though technical details are still under wraps, Travis Deyle at Hizook did a great job in summarizing what is known about ChIMERA and related projects.

To see the "amoebot" in action, watch the video below. It's a talk Professor Hong gave at TEDxNASA -- ChIMERA stars at 07:27.
 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/v/_gJMv9YtX8I&hl=en_US&fs=1&color1=0xe1600f&color2=0xfebd01 expand=1]

 

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
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A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
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In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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