Harvard scientists have packed the sensors and circuitry of their cockroach-sized HAMR robot into an even teeny-tinier structure the size of a penny. Dubbed HAMR-JR, the microrobot is about half the size of its previous version; but can still carry out most of its feats, including running, jumping and carrying heavy payloads. Small but mighty, therefore, HAMR-JR's body length is a mere 2.25 centimeters, and it weighs 0.3 grams, which is only a fraction of an actual penny. The robot can run 14 body lengths per second, making it both the smallest and the fastest microrobot out there. Given the size of the structure, said the research team, HAMR-JR demonstrates an impressive array of actions, since most robots at this scale can only perform basic mobility tasks.
This itsy-bitsy robot can't climb up the waterspout yet but it can run, jump, carry heavy payloads and turn on a dime. Dubbed HAMR-JR, this microrobot developed by researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, is a half-scale version of the cockroach-inspired Harvard Ambulatory Microrobot or HAMR. About the size of a penny, HAMR-JR can perform almost all of the feats of its larger-scale predecessor, making it one of the most dexterous microrobots to date. "Most robots at this scale are pretty simple and only demonstrate basic mobility," said Kaushik Jayaram, Ph.D., a former postdoctoral fellow at SEAS and the Wyss Institute, and first author of the paper. "We have shown that you don't have to compromise dexterity or control for size."
Harvard researchers have made the tiny Harvard Ambulatory Microrobot (HAMR) even tinier. The next-gen, cockroach-inspired robot is about the size of a penny, and it can run at speeds of 13.9 body lengths per second. That makes it one of the smallest and fastest microrobots to date. The team also believes it's the most dexterous robot of its size. Dubbed HAMR-JR, the robot is a half-scale version of its predecessor, which researchers taught to swim and walk underwater.
This machine, the brainchild of CU Boulder engineer Kaushik Jayaram and colleagues at Harvard University, gives a whole new meaning to the word small: HAMR-Jr can just about squeeze onto the surface of a penny and weighs far less than a paperclip. But don't let its size fool you. This four-legged robot can also carry up to 10 times its own weight in cargo and hits top speeds that, for its size, are comparable to a cheetah bounding over the Serengeti. "HAMR-Jr can achieve gaits that approach an animal-like mechanical dexterity, demonstrating that we do not need to compromise design complexity or manufacturability to reduce the size of our robots," said Jayaram, an assistant professor in the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering. Jayaram led the design of this little-robot-that-could while he was working as a postdoctoral scholar in Harvard's Microrobotics Lab led by Professor Robert Wood.
A robot dog from Boston Dynamics is now officially available to purchase. Spot, as the machine has been dubbed, will cost $74,500 (approximately £60,000). The canine droid is only available to customers in the United States at the moment, after they make a $1,000 deposit. It is capable of climbing stairs and crossing rough terrain, with the company sending the mechanical pooch into dangerous environments to carry payloads from place to place or collect data from the site. Users can control spot through its controller, which "easy access" to the robot's body posing, walking gaits, obstacle avoidance, and local navigation. Spot can also be set to follow predefined routes.