Adaptable turtle-bot uses four flippers to scoot across the sand
Just last week, we heard about a robotic baby sea turtle that can "swim" through the sand. It's not the only robo-turtle in town, though, as another one has been developed to possibly one day lead real baby turtles to the safety of the sea.
The land-crawling robot was designed at the University of Notre Dame by Prof. Yasemin Ozkan-Aydin, electrical engineering doctoral student Nnamdi Chikere, and John Simon McElroy, a visiting undergraduate student from University College Dublin.
At the base of the remote-control device is a 3D-printed rigid polymer body which incorporates an electronic control unit, a multi-sensor module, and a battery.
Attached to that body via swiveling polymer connectors are four flexible molded-silicone flippers. Each of those appendages is independently activated, with the two large front flippers providing propulsion over sand or other surfaces, and the small rear flippers used to steer – they work sort of like a couple of rudders.
The robot's gait can be adapted for optimum performance over various types of terrain, and incorporates what are described as the most effective aspects of different locomotion patterns employed by different species of sea turtles.
And while the bot has been developed mainly to gain a better understanding of how turtle-style locomotion could be applied to human technology, it is hoped that a future version of the device could be used to help newly hatched baby sea turtles quickly find their way to the ocean. Such hatchlings can be led astray by litter on the beach or the lights from nearby streets and buildings, leaving them exposed to terrestrial predators such as seagulls.
You can see the robot in action, in the video below.
Source: University of Notre Dame