Engineers at the Ben Gurion University’s Bio-Inspired and Medical Robotics Lab have developed a reconfigurable version of their SAW (Single Actuator Wave-like Robot), which is capable of traversing difficult terrain and climbing over objects, even while flipped over. Like its predecessor, the RSAW (Reconfigurable SAW) is a bio-inspired design that resembles how snakes move in the wild, using a wave motion to propel it forward, backward, and sideways.
RSAW is comprised of two wave-like segments that consist of four parts- a motor housing, motor, helix, and a series of links. The motor attaches to the housing from one side, and to the helix at the other end. The links are connected to the motor housing, and when the motor rotates the helix, the links cancel out that rotation along the axis of the helix, which maintains vertical motion.
The two waves are attached to each other using a universal joint, which allows the robot to adjust its yaw to steer its direction in the plane, as well as its ability to raise its pitch to climb over obstacles. RSAW’s design also enables it to operate even while flipped over and traverse challenging surfaces, including rocks, grass, gravel, and dirt. What’s more, the robot has a top speed of 19cm per second and can climb over obstacles that are 10cm in height.
Since the RSAW features a simplistic design, it can be scaled to different sizes for any number of applications, such as search and rescue and maintenance, or miniaturized to navigate through the human body for medical purposes.