Single actuator wave-like robot can crawl, climb and swim

Ever saw a robot that can not only crawl and swim, but can also climb without the need for changing its shape? You wouldn’t have because there wasn’t one until now.

Scientists at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) have managed to create the world’s first robot named Single actuator wave-like robot (SAW) that can crawl across different surfaces, climb and even swim. The robot holds huge promise in a variety of fields including search and rescue operations, maintenance of tough to reach places, medical applications, among others.


The team behind the robot revealed that one of the major inspirations behind development of SAW are snakes – the manner in which they can climb, crawl and even swim. While the motion of the robot is not similar to that of the snake, it nonetheless allows it to swim, crawl across different surfaces, and climb. For steering purpose, the robot has been equipped with wheels.

SAW can climb over obstacles or crawl through difficult surfaces like sand, grass and gravel. The robot can also climb through tunnels at a rate of 8 cm per second touching both sides. Researchers reveal that their robot achieved top speed of 57 centimeters per second during tests, which is five times faster than any similar robot.

Moreover, a waterproof version can swim at 6 cm a second. Researchers say that because of the new design that they have implemented, their robot is strong, easy to manufacture, reliable and energy efficient which enables long travel distances.

Dr. Zarrouk says that they managed to find a much simpler and unique solution that enables the robot to be built in different sizes for different purposes. It can be scaled up for search and rescue and maintenance or miniaturized to a diameter of one cm or less to travel within the human body for medical purposes, such as imaging biopsies of the digestive system.

Researchers add that SAW barely needs maintenance and is almost ready for use in medical applications like travelling through intestine for imaging and biopsy purposes. Further, it can also be used to infiltrate problematic and complex areas, such as tunnels, destroyed buildings, and pipes and analyze issues. Check out the video below:

The study describing SAW is published in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics.

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