ROBOT rats may soon be unleashed to search for survivors at disaster sites as researchers continue to develop the technology.
It comes as scientists have unveiled a mechanic critter named SQuRo (small-sized quadruped robotic rat).
A team, led by Professor Qing Shi from the Beijing Institute of Technology in China, chose the rodents as they are capable of adapting to narrow spaces owing to their elongated slim body and unrivalled agility.
The robot version would be able to pass through narrow spaces and rugged terrains and perform tasks, such as detection or transportation in relevant scenarios.
Video of SQuRo in action shows it crouching to fit in small tunnels, turning in a tight space, and even picking itself up after being kicked over.
In a study published this month in the journal IEEE Transactions on Robotics, the team explain how they have invested significant time in replicating certain properties and functions of a rat’s biological system.
Professor Shi’s team says they developed a wheeled robotic rat capable of multiple rat-like behaviors, then replaced wheels with legs to further enhance the movement agility.
In the study, experimental results revealed that the legged robot SQuRo is capable of mimicking the motion of actual rats inside narrow spaces.
The study explains: “Legged robots are very promising for use in real-world applications, but their operation in narrow spaces is still challenging.
“One solution for enhancing their environmental adaptability is to design a small-sized biomimetic robot capable of performing multiple motions.
“By capturing a decent representation of an actual rat (rattus norvegicus), we developed a small-sized quadruped robotic rat (SQuRo), which includes four limbs and one flexible spine.
“The results obtained through a series of experimental tests reveal that SQuRo achieves a superior motion performance compared with existing state-of-the-art small-sized quadruped robots.
“Remarkably, SQuRo has an extremely small turning radius (0.48 BL) and strong payload capacity (200g), and it can recover from falls.”
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