A powerful and fast robot the size of an insect!

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A team of researchers from Harvard University presented this week a new microrobot at the ICRA 2020 robotics congress. As large as an American “penny”, HAMR-Jr is half the size of its predecessor without losing agility .

Researchers at Harvard University have just developed a cockroach-inspired microbot. Called HAMR-Jr (HAMR junior), it measures half the size of its predecessor, the Harvard Ambulatory Microrobot (HAMR). With a length of 2.25 centimeters, this small machine weighs only 0.32 grams. It has 8 degrees of freedom actuated independently, a unique feature for a device of this size.

The microrobot was built using the same origami-inspired process as its predecessor. The frame is cut from a sheet in two dimensions, then folded to obtain the 3D shape. Researchers have shown that this same process can be used on different scales to create machines of different sizes, while requiring only minor adjustments.

A manufacturing process usable on different scales

“Most of the robots on this scale are rather simple and demonstrate only basic mobility,” said Kaushik Jayaram, one of the authors of the article. “We have shown that there is no need to compromise dexterity or size control.” Despite its small dimensions, this machine is able to move back and forth, turn and even use different types of strides. HAMR-Jr can reach a speed of 13.9 times its length per second, making it one of the smallest and fastest microbots.

The most complex part of this miniaturization was to take into account the differences in certain factors, such as stride length and joint stiffness. Researchers have created a theoretical model that successfully predicts running speed, foot strength and other metrics. The results obtained with HAMR-Jr should make it easier to create robots of all sizes in the future.

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