Does the idea of a 6 foot long, 16 inch wide robotic worm crawling beneath your epidermis frighten you? Not to worry because Dr. Jordan Boyle, post doctoral fellow at the University of Leeds, is working on making it smaller. His focus is also on creating a robot that can manage it’s way through small openings and tight crevasses, rather than your skin (we think.) Mix this with the angular velocity of a high speed caterpillar and you’ve got the makings of a jumping robo-worm swarm of nightmarish proportion. But this worm is more than it seems.
3D Printed Robot Worm
Although the robo-worm isn’t capable of stretching it’s segmented body around jagged rubble quite yet, it’s construction details the possibility 3D printing technology has to offer robo-worm research.
“Instead of constructing the 12 segments from aluminium, the worm-snake robot was made from tough nylon-based plastic in a 3D printer – cutting the cost to around £2000, against the £5000 aluminium would have cost.” – New Scientist
The worm is based on Jordan’s research into the locomotion of a small nematode worm with a simple neural structure, the Caenorhabditis elegans. With it, his studies have led him to discover that the biological specimen seems to be adapting to it’s surroundings and their constraints instead of sensing what type of environment it’s in. Much like me after having some bad soup. Video below showing 2 minutes of the worm crawling slowly around obstacles, which could be bodies, or bones.
Via New Scientist
Image credit: University of Leeds