Hair clips inspired the design for these land-based robots

Hair clips inspired the design for these land-based robots

Many modern robots take inspiration from the natural world , but one of the newest examples gets its movement from a simple, universal styling option: the common haircut. Designed by scientists at Columbia University and subsequently highlighted by New Atlas, the research team recently took inspiration from the beauty product’s simple, alternating states to develop their “fast, untethered soft-robotic crawler with elastic instability.”

[Related: This spooky robot uses inflatable tentacles to grab delicate items. ]

Or, in layperson’s terms, the Barrette Bot… or, rather, two Barrette Bots:

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Using what Zechen Xiong and Yufeng Su called their Hair Clip Mechanism, (HCM), the team developed a pair small, soft robots using strips of prestressed poly that are then attached to basic electric motors. The strips alternate between convex or concave shapes when activated, allowing for movement and amplifying their force.

To test their new design, the group created an aquatic robot that uses the HCM to act as a fishtail and another machine that uses two HCMs to simulate a quadrupedal animal. The results offered solidly speedy robots compared to their respective sizes–moving about 435mm (roughly two body lengths) per second for the fishbot, and 313mm (1.6 body lengths) per second for the land-bound creation. Although the team claims their small robots are speedier than other groups’ comparable designs, North Carolina State University recently concocted a hairclip-like swimming robot of their own capable of paddling almost 3. 75 body lengths per second.

[Related: How engineers taught a manta ray-inspired robot the butterfly stroke. ]

But, the most interesting thing about the new HCM system is that the robots’ frames can simultaneously act as propulsion systems. The team compared it to a car with an engine that also functions as its frame or a human skull that doubles as a body’s muscle. The team believes that removing the need to have a separate motor mechanism could make robots more affordable, simpler, lighter, and more efficient in the future.

Soft-bodied robots are becoming more popular for their lightweight, efficient, and creative designs. They are also light and nimble, as well as being delicate and effective. Recently, Colorado State University showed off a soft robotic gripper so sensitive that it can pick up individual droplets of liquid without compromising its surface tension. The tentacled robotic robot was inspired by octopuses and looks spookier that the barrettebot.

Andrew Paul

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