This earthworm robot is able to explore the earth

Italian researchers have created a soft robot inspired by an earthworm. They are made of elastic material, and are able to move by reproducing peristaltic crawling.

In order to create a robot capable of exploring the Earth’s interior, researchers fromItaliano di Tecnologia Institute (Italian Institute of Technology) It is inspired by an organism that lives on Earth: the earthworm. Thanks to soft robots, which use flexible materials, they have been able to reproduce their very own movement. They published their results in the journal Scientific reports.

The prototype is 45 cm long and weighs 605 grams. The researchers created a soft peristaltic pump that mimics the individual parts of an earthworm. And so they connected five units in series, which lengthen when the air pressure inside increases, and contract when it decreases.

This soft robot, inspired by an earthworm, advances by shrinking its parts one by one. © IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Tech Xplore

A robot that can explore the soil of other planets

The robot advances by shrinking the units one by one, creating a peristaltic wave that mimics an earthworm. Each unit can expand by 10.97 mm at a positive pressure of 1 bar, and contract by 11.13 mm at a negative pressure of 0.5 bar. The researchers also replicated earthworms, microscopic chitinous hairs that help them move forward, by gluing negative scales on their ventral side.

If it doesn’t win any races, the robot will still be able to reach a speed of 1.35 mm/sec, or 4.86 m/hr. In addition to exploring the underground, such a robot could be used in rescue operations, and even in exploration of other planets.

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About the Author: Octávio Florencio

"Evangelista zumbi. Pensador. Criador ávido. Fanático pela internet premiado. Fanático incurável pela web."

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