Jet engines can have up to 25,000 individual parts, making regular maintenance a tedious task that can take over a month per engine. Many components are located deep inside the engine and cannot be inspected without taking the machine apart, adding time and costs to maintenance. This problem is not only confined to jet engines, either; many complicated, expensive machines like construction equipment, generators, and scientific instruments require large investments of time and money to inspect and maintain. Researchers at Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have created a micro-robot whose electroadhesive foot pads, origami ankle joints, and specially engineered walking gait allow it to climb on vertical and upside-down conductive surfaces, like the inside walls of a commercial jet engine. The work is reported in Science Robotics.
A robot with sticky feet that can climb up and down vertical walls as well as across the ceiling has been created by scientists. Harvard University engineers and Rolls-Royce partnered to make the robot which they say could inspect complex machines in the future. The device could be used in future to identify and maintain jet engines, scientific instruments and even generators. Jet engines can have up to 25,000 individual parts, making regular maintenance a tedious task that can take over a month per engine. Many components are located deep inside the engine and cannot be inspected without taking the machine apart, adding time and costs to maintenance.
Usually, biologically inspired robotics is about figuring out evolution's clever tricks and then trying to apply them to your robot to make it faster or more efficient or more skilled or whatever. It isn't very often that a robot ends up beating nature at its own game--evolution is a very intelligent designer, and roboticists are going up against a half billion years of trial and error. In an article published last week in Nature Communications, researchers from EPFL, in Lausanne, Switzerland, managed to show that for legged hexapods, a bipedal gait (using just two active legs at once) is often the fastest and most efficient way of moving, even though insects use a tripedal gait instead. Generally, the most efficient way of moving (especially moving quickly) for legged animals is to minimize the amount of time that you've got legs making contact with the ground. You see this all the time in mammals, the fastest of which prioritize flight phases, where motion is more like a sequence of dynamic jumps as opposed to just a sped-up walk.
You are free to share this article under the Attribution 4.0 International license. Small drones need to stay aloft to do their jobs--whether it's searching for dangerous gas leaks or remotely monitoring atmospheric conditions. But the effort can quickly drain battery power. Now, scientists have created RoboBees, insect-sized flying robots that have a switchable electro-adhesive that allows them to perch on materials such glass, wood, or a leaf, using roughly 1,000 times less power than sustained flight. "One of the biggest difficulties with building insect-sized robots is that the physics change as you go that small.
With a few exceptions, quadrotors are the go-to aerial robot when you need something small, fast, and maneuverable. This is because quadrotors are relatively cheap and easy to fly, and not because they're the best aerial platform. In fact, you may have noticed that there aren't a lot of rotary fliers in the animal kingdom--this is because (among other reasons) flapping wings offer high efficiency and incredible maneuverability as long as you're able to manufacture and control them. Those last two things are what make wings tricky for robots, which is why we don't see nearly as many useful robot birds as we do useful quadrotors. Alireza Ramezani, Soon-Jo Chung, and Seth Hutchinson from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Caltech have decided that making robot birds is just not tricky enough, so they're working on something even better and even more complex: a robotic bat.