Saturday, May 4, 2013

Flipperbot: The Sea Turtle Robot!

"New Robot Crawls Like a Sea Turtle

Researchers have designed a robot that crawls like a sea turtle which could help inspire future multi-terrain robots that would also be able to swim and walk.

The new robot, dubbed “Flipperbot,” was designed to allow scientists to learn more about the locomotion of animals such as seals, sea turtles and mudskippers.

Its creators, from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and Northwestern University, wanted a better understanding of how these animals use their flippers and fins to move on surfaces like sand.

Flipperbot, which is 19 centimeters long and weighs 790 grams, crawls by using two flipper-like front limbs that span about 40 centimeters. To power the turtle-like robot, each of its limbs is equipped with small servo motors with thin, lightweight flippers attached to the end.

Flipperbot could also help scientists gain a better understanding of how structures like fins and flippers evolved when fish-like animals moved from the water onto land several hundred million years ago.

Flipperbot makes its way through sand. (Nicole Mazouchova)

To better understand the mechanics of flipper-based movement on land Daniel Goldman from the Georgia Tech team said that his group, before designing Flipperbot, to better understand the mechanics of flipper-based movement on land, researchers studied how hatchling sea turtles propelled themselves from their nests on sandy beaches into the sea.

'Flipperbot allowed us to explore aspects of the sea turtle’s gait and structure that were challenging, if not impossible, to investigate in field experiments using actual animals,'  said Goldman..."

Read the full article at its source:

Student Focus Question(s): 1) Is the purpose of the Flipperbot project to create a robot sea turtle? - To learn something important that might be used in ways that have nothing to do with sea turtles? - Other? 2) If you could design a robot that moves like a specific animal, which one would  you model it on? 3) Try some online research and find out if anyone has ever worked on designing such a robot already... what did you find?

After thinking about this, you can enter your response using the "Commnets" function, below (to the left of the envelope icon). Feel free to identify your school and/or class....
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