Robotics

HAMR-JR is one of the smallest, fastest walking robots ever

HAMR-JR is one of the smallest...
A couple of HAMR-JR microbots, with a US penny (and one of the original HAMRs) for scale
A couple of HAMR-JR microbots, with a US penny (and one of the original HAMRs) for scale
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HAMR-JR in action
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HAMR-JR in action
A couple of HAMR-JR microbots, with a US penny (and one of the original HAMRs) for scale
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A couple of HAMR-JR microbots, with a US penny (and one of the original HAMRs) for scale

It was seven years ago that we first heard about Harvard University's HAMR cockroach-inspired robot. Although the bot was already on the tiny side, its designers have now created a version that's just half its size – it's time to meet HAMR-JR.

The original HAMR (Harvard Ambulatory MicroRobot) measured just 4.4 cm in length (1.7 in), and used its four ceramic-actuator-powered legs to scuttle around at speeds of up to 8.4 body lengths per second.

It was built utilizing Harvard's Printed Circuit Microelectromechanical Systems (PC-MEMS) manufacturing method. This involves fabricating a flat sheet of micro-layered building materials, then using a laser to cut that sheet into patterns. The different panels that make up those patterns are joined together by flexible hinges. This allows the panels to be folded into three-dimensional shapes, much like the pages of a children's pop-up book.

In order to build HAMR-JR, the scientists basically just shrank the two-dimensional pattern design, along with the leg actuators and integrated circuitry. Power is supplied via a hard-wired external source.

HAMR-JR in action
HAMR-JR in action

The resulting robot is a mere 2.25 cm long (0.9 in), and at 0.3 grams weighs less than a penny. That said, its scale top speed is faster than that of the original, coming in at around 14 body lengths per second. It can also jump, carry payloads heavier than itself, and turn on the spot.

"Most robots at this scale are pretty simple and only demonstrate basic mobility," says Kaushik Jayaram, first author of a paper on the research. "We have shown that you don’t have to compromise dexterity or control for size."

Source: Harvard University

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