Researchers Create Innovative Robot Leg Inspired by Cucumber Spider

In this post:

  • Researchers have developed a robot leg inspired by the leg of a cucumber spider.  
  • The researchers were motivated by how nature takes advantage of complex biological structures to accomplish their functions.
  • The robot’s foot can softly touch small structures.

Researchers Indrek Must and Kadri-Ann Valdur, the Institute of Technology at the University of Tartu, have performed an absolutely outstanding job by building a robot leg inspired by the leg of a cucumber spider. These revolutionary soft robots, developed together with the Italian Institute of Technology, could impact the robotics industry powerfully, allowing machines to maneuver through locations that aren’t accessible to humans or, quite simply, where their presence is unwanted.

Mimicking Nature’s Intricate Design

The researchers were motivated by how nature takes advantage of complex biological structures to accomplish their functions. Hence, they sought to mimic the elaborate physiological processes that other organisms use to complete their functions effectively. On the other hand, in organisms the fluid is responsible for transducing those organs, as well as for blood vessels, and the musculoskeletal system together. 

Source: onlinelibrary

For instance, such a blood-like liquid (hemolymph) which is the case in a spider, makes the muscles activate and the exoskeleton remains flexible. Following this concept, the researchers prepared a highly artificial soft robot having both soft and brittle joints, connected with a liquid medium and soft switches.

Remarkable Capabilities and Potential Applications

Dr. Indrek Must, the Associate Professor of Soft Robotics, articulated the scientific basis for the project. He said that their target is to create systems from artificial and biological materials that can perform the same functioning as the bugs in the wild. The robotic leg can interact with sensitive items and navigate uncertain environments just as a living spider does.

The soft robot, a platform that has been shown promptly in scientific papers in the Indian Journal of Advanced Functional Materials, proves its abilities. The robot’s foot can softly touch small structures, like a primrose stamen, spider web, and pollen grain, without leaving a trace of its presence through contact, thus showcasing its ability to interact non-intrusively with delicate objects or environments.

The artificial leg featuring as big as a small fingernail is no more. It is formed by a light-curing resin enclosure, and an artificial muscle composed of polypyrrole. Such a robotic is to a natural muscle as an electrical signal. The whole exoskeleton fills with an electrolyte solution that covers both a polymide tendon and an electroactive polymer.

Soft Robotics Research

Soft robotics, seamlessly integrating into the beauty of our world based on natural principles, is a remarkable technology with bright prospects. Robot functioning can not only occur in natural settings of interest to humans such as within the human body during surgery using Nanorobots or in disaster relief where they search for survivors, but can also carry out specialized roles that humans cannot.

The case of ground-breaking research at the University of Tartu demonstrates a clear example of interdisciplinary work and robots’ capability to transform the medical sector as well as contribute in search-and-rescue missions. The fact that nature is the source of inspiration for machine automation innovation is perfect proof that as technology keeps advancing, the future of robotics will be shaped by it and as a result, will open more avenues for human exploration and discoveries.

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