(Ben-Gurion University) (Ben-Gurion University)
robot

“The AmphiSTAR uses a sprawling mechanism inspired by cockroaches, and it is designed to run on water at high speeds like the basilisk lizard.”

By TPS

A new Israeli high-speed amphibious robot inspired by the movements of cockroaches and lizards that was developed by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers swims and runs on top of the water at high speeds and crawls on difficult terrain.

“The AmphiSTAR uses a sprawling mechanism inspired by cockroaches, and it is designed to run on water at high speeds like the basilisk lizard,” said Dr. David Zarrouk, director, Bioinspired and Medical Robotics Laboratory in BGU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. “We envision that AmphiSTAR can be used for agricultural, search and rescue and excavation applications, where both crawling and swimming are required.”

The palm-size AmphiSTAR, part of the family of STAR robots developed at the lab, is a wheeled robot fitted with four propellers underneath which axes can be tilted using the sprawl mechanism.

The propellers act as wheels over the ground and as fins to propel the robot over water while swimming and running on the water at high speeds of 1.5 m/s. Two air tanks enable it to float and transition smoothly between high speeds, such as from crawling to swimming and vice versa.

The experimental robot can crawl over gravel, grass and concrete as quickly as the original STAR robot and can attain speeds of 3.6 m/s (3.3 mph).

“Our future research will focus on the scalability of the robot and on underwater swimming,” Zarrouk said.

The mechanical design of the AmphiSTAR robot and its control system were presented virtually last week at the IROS (International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems) by Zarrouk and graduate student Avi Cohen.