A team of engineers from the University of Notre Dame (UND) has developed a robot in the shape of a small sea turtle that, like its biological counterparts, can move through sand and difficult terrain. The scientists studied different species of sea turtles and their locomotion and transferred the best locomotion strategies to the robot.
Sea turtles can adapt their movement on land and recall a variety of movement patterns. This makes them interesting as a role model for robots that have to move through difficult terrain.
“Mimicking this adaptability is challenging because it requires a thorough understanding of the interactions between morphology, flexibility and gait with the environment. Studying how sea turtles adapt their gait to navigate complex and varied terrain can help us to design more versatile robots,” says Yasemin Ozkan-Aydin, Professor of Electrical Engineering at UND.
Recommended Editorial Content
With your consent, an external YouTube video (Google Ireland Limited) will be loaded here.
Always load YouTube video Load YouTube video now
She and her two colleagues, Nnamdi Chikere, an electrical engineering graduate student and undergraduate student John Simon McElroy, built the robotic sea turtle that mimics the locomotion of a real sea turtle. It consists of an oval body on which four independently movable fins are attached, which are controlled by servos. The two large front fins push the turtle forward. They do the main work of locomotion. The smaller rear flippers serve to determine the direction of the sea turtle.
Natural locomotion strategies
The body and the rigid fin connections are made of a polymer and come from the 3D printer. The fins themselves are made of silicone. This gives them the necessary rigidity and high flexibility at the same time.
The robot is controlled via a radio remote control. Electronics convert the control signals into appropriate locomotion strategies. The researchers determined this using data from zoological studies on the morphology, gait pattern and fin stiffness of various sea turtle species. “To maximize adaptability and versatility, we studied the locomotion patterns of different species and took the most effective aspects from each species,” says Ozkan-Aydin.
The scientists tested the robot in a sandbox on the university campus. The robot was able to move safely through sand without getting stuck. The direction could be specified at any time. The researchers now hope that the sea turtle robot can be used in the wild to guide baby sea turtles on their dangerous journey from the nest to the sea after birth, in order to give them the best possible chance of surviving from predators.
Go to home page
#Optimal #locomotion #robotic #sea #turtle #walks #real