“Earthworm” robot digging in sand, a technology that could be key to exploring other planets

The developed technology can be used to build burrows on the surface of the moon and distant celestial bodies.

Two American universities came together to create “android worm‘Able to move through underground environments, reaching new frontiers for robots, which have already conquered air, The Water, and the Surface from Earth.

To do this, the engineers University of California, Santa Barbara and Georgia Institute of Technology They followed the signals of animals and plants that evolved to navigate underground spaces, and in doing so they designed a robot that is soft, fast, and manageable that can hide in the sand.

This technology not only allows for new applications of Underground quick movesAnd the Flour s minimally invasive, but I also feel mechanical bases for new types of robots.

“The biggest challenges in moving across the land are simply the forces involved,” said Nicholas Naclerio, a graduate student in the lab of UC Santa Barbara Professor of Mechanical Engineering Elliot Hawkes. He explained that while air and water offer little resistance to things moving through them, the underworld is another story.

“If you are trying to move on the ground, you have to push the earth, sand or other means out of the way,” Naslerio said.

Luckily, The natural world provides numerous examples of underground navigation in the form of plants and fungi building underground networks and animals that have perfected the ability to dig tunnels directly through granular media. Gaining a mechanistic understanding of how plants and animals master navigation underground opens up many possibilities for science and technology, according to Daniel Goldman, the Dunn family professor of physics at Georgia Tech.

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Discovering the principles by which diverse organisms successfully swim and burrow within granular media could lead to developing new types of mechanisms and robots that can take advantage of these principles,” He said: “Similarly, the development of a robot with such capabilities may inspire new animal studies and point to new phenomena in the physics of granular substrates.”

Android Squishy.  University of California / Reuters
Android Squishy. University of California / Reuters

According to its developers, This worm robot, has a variety of applications, even in alien robotsWhere it can be used in tasks that require shallow digging Through dry granular media, such as Soil samples, underground utility facility, and drift control.

Therefore, the team of scientists is already working on a project with NASA to develop burrows on the moon and in distant celestial bodies. “We believe drilling has the potential to open up new avenues and enable new capabilities for space robots,” stated lead author of the study, Elliot Hawkes.

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