A team of Russian scientists has built a tiny spybot which looks and moves like a cockroach. The scientists, from the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University in Kaliningrad, hope to use the insectoid robot to help find victims trapped under debris.
“Berkeley University has been working on their cockroach for the past four years,” explained project leader Aleksey Belousov, “but they didn’t have to make it look like an insect, so it’s faster than ours. But it can’t turn at speed and it doesn’t look like a real cockroach at all. Whereas we were specifically told to create a cockroach robot on time and on budget.”
The robot, which is 10cm long, can move at 30cm-per-second, which is 1/3 the speed of a real cockroach, and can carry a weight of up to 10g, enough for a small camera. It is fitted with light sensors, plus contact and non-contact probes to help it negotiate obstacles and move through small spaces.
“We had to develop many things from scratch. For example, there’s a company in Austria that produces gearing for legs, but a unit for one robot would have cost us nearly $9,000 while our entire budget is $22,500,” Danil Borchevkin, lead engineer at the university, said.
The team from Kant Baltic Federal University is currently working on a camouflaged version for the Russian military.