Lizard-inspired amphibious robot runs across the water
The basilisk is also known as the"Jesus Christ Lizard," due to the fact that it can run across the surface of the water. A new version of an existing type of robot does the same thing, plus it's capable of traversing rough terrain.
Developed by a team at Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the basilisk-inspired AmphiSTAR is the latest member of the institution's STAR family of robots.
The original FSTAR (Flying Sprawl-Tuned Autonomous Robot) featured adjustable-angle spreadable arms with wheels on one side and propellers on the other. This setup allowed it to roll along the ground like a car, or fly like a quadcopter.
The subsequent RSTAR (Rising Sprawl-Tuned Autonomous Robot) kept the round wheels on one side, but replaced the propellers with spoked rimless wheels on the other. It moved across flat terrain using the round wheels, but then actually flipped itself over to use the spoked wheels for going over rough, uneven ground.
The "palm-sized" AmphiSTAR retains the outrigger-like spreadable arms, which are now equipped with a total of four paddle-bladed propellers – two on the underside of each arm.
When moving across surfaces such as grass or gravel, the arms are angled so that the propeller blades function like the RSTAR's rimless spoked wheels, digging in and pulling the robot forward. This configuration allows it to crawl at a maximum speed of 3.6 meters per second (11.8 ft/s).
Upon reaching a body of water, it continues to use the propellers, which are now angled to let it "run on the water" at up to 1.5 m/s (4.9 ft/s). That said, it can also move across the water in a slower more boat-like fashion, with a pair of buoyancy tanks keeping it afloat. Future plans include giving it the ability to swim underwater.
"We envision that AmphiSTAR can be used for agricultural, search and rescue and excavation applications, where both crawling and swimming are required," says Dr. David Zarrouk, director of the university's Bioinspired and Medical Robotics Laboratory.
The robot was presented last week via the online International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, and can be seen in action in the video below.