The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Watch This 'Sprawl-Tuned' Insect Bot Skitter All Over The Place

Wheel leg flappy things give this little robot a surprising amount of maneuverability

1 min read
Watch This 'Sprawl-Tuned' Insect Bot Skitter All Over The Place

This little guy just showed up on UC Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab YouTube channel. It's called STAR, for Sprawl-Tuned Autonomous Robot, a six legged skittery thing just 12 cm in size that can adapt its limbs and its gait to zip over and under obstacles.

More info on STAR is scheduled to be presented at ICRA 2013 in Germany in May. We'll be there, of course, but until then, what we know about this robot is limited to what's in the YouTube video description:

The robot can achieve legged performance over rough surfaces and obstacles, using a high sprawl angle, and nearly wheel-like performance over smooth surfaces for small sprawl angles. By changing the sprawl angle it can climb over obstacle or crawl underneath them.

STAR can run at 5.2m/s (43 body lengths/second, Froude number 9.8) over a smooth surface which makes it the fastest untethered crawling robot.

STAR was developed at the Biomimetic Millisystem Lab, UC Berkeley, by David Zarrouk, Andrew Pullin, Nick Kohut and Ronald Fearing.

Again, we'll have more on this thing when we head to Germany at the beginning of May, if not before.

[ Biomimetic Millisystems Lab ]

The Conversation (0)

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
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

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?

Keep Reading ↓Show less