As all robots enthusiasts know, building a robot that can run and fly is very difficult, expensive and it doesn`t always have the best results. However, building two robots, one that can run and another than fly and mixing the two together, is a much more viable option.
And scientists from UC Berkeley`s Biomimetic Millisystems Lab did just that. First they built a robotic cockroach, named the VelociRoach and then they figured out that they can turn this new and expensive gadget into more than just a walking robotic roach.
They could also make it a launching pad for another robot, like a flying machine. To do that they combined the great speed of the VelociRoach (16 feet per second) with the power of flight of a robotic bird that they have previously built, an Ornithopter.
The word Ornithopter is a general term used to refer to a device that can fly by batting its wings. One of the first such devices was designed by a great flight enthusiast and inventor, Leornardo da Vinci. The robotic bird that we are actually refering to in this article is named H2Bird.
Although the VelociRoach is the fastest robot of its size in the world, there was no need for it to be pushed to the limit, but a perfect combination between the two pieces of gear had to be found in order to insure the experiment`s success.
The robotic roach weighs around 1 ounce and the robot bird is half that weight, so there would be no obstacle in the VelociRoach carrying the H2Bird. The Ornithopter, was able to fly really well on its own, but needed to be launched at a speed of about 4.5 feet per second. They customized the robotic roach so that it would be able to sustain the Ornithopter at a 35-40 degree angle and then they had lift off!
The bird robot flew for about 90 seconds, just like it was supposed to, and the experiment was declared a success and robotic birds and cockroaches became the perfect partners in science.
The exciting part is that the VelociRoach is able to help the H2Bird become airborne even on rough and uneven terrain, thanks to its many little robotic legs.
More about this experiments and its purpose will be revealed at the ICRA 2015 conference, which is organized by the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society.
Image Source: roboticsberkeley