If it looks like a locust… and boasts the power of a locust, then it’s…
… not a locust!
But it’s close.
Engineers in Israel have harnessed the attributes of the locust and built them into the design for a new robot called Taub.
Having examined the jumping ability of the locust, the team used it as the foundation for their robot – both in terms of how it looks and how it works.
Zoology professor Amir Ayali at Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Life Sciences says, “The locust uses mechanical energy in addition to its muscle force in order to generate a jump and this is exactly what we’re imitating and inspired by.”
Using carbon rods, steel springs, and 3-D printed parts, the team has managed to create a robot that looks like a locust – and can jump like one, too.
Indeed, the lithium battery-powered “insect” can jump up to 11.5 feet.
“We’re using a tiny motor that stores and generates mechanical energy,” Ayali continues. “This mechanical energy in the springs is actually very similar to the locust legs and is what propels the robot into the air.”
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So what’s the point, you may wonder?
He says it could be used to replace humans in hazardous military or search-and-rescue missions: “Whenever you want to engage any kind of robotic system with no human interference or intervention at all – for example, it could be used in rescue and oil spill cleanup.”
Even better… the team says Taub is very cheap to manufacture. And with an estimated price of around $100, it’s an easy investment for any organizations who could use it.
The next step is to secure more funding for research and development that will allow the engineers to increase the robot’s jumping ability – and maybe even find a way to make it fly.