Today's rigid robots are unable to navigate complex environments with openings of arbitrary size and shape. They are stymied by, say, a building whose only access points may be a crack under a door or a conduit for an electrical cable.
The robot design is inspired by the team's findings on both the neuro-mechanical system of the Manduca sexta caterpillar. The Tufts chembots will copy some of the performance capability of Manduca, including its flexibility, climbing ability and scalability – from hatching to the end of its larval stage, the caterpillar grows 10,000 fold in mass using the same number of muscles and motor neurons.
According to Dr. Mitchell Zakin, Ph.D., DARPA program manager for the ChemBots program,
“DARPA’s ChemBots program represents the convergence of soft materials chemistry and robotics. It is an entirely new way of looking at robots and could someday yield great technological advantage for our armed forces.” Read full article