When the nuclear apocalypse happens, we’re all pretty much already resigned to the fact that cockroaches will inherit the Earth. The things can already survive in all kinds of ungodly places that mere mortal creatures cannot, so it’s only a little bit surprising that they’re the inspiration for a new cockbot from Harvard.
Harvard’s Ambulatory Microrobot (HAMR) is able to move over land, tread water, and even submerge itself to walk on underwater surfaces for indefinite periods of time – a combination of capabilities that according to researcher and first author of the research paper Kevin Chen was much more difficult for other robots.
Chen, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) explains that HAMR “demonstrates that microrobotics can leverage small-scale physics – in this case surface tension – to perform functions and capabilities that are challenging for larger robots.”
The little insectoid uses surface tension by treading water with its multifunctional foot pads to spread its miniscule 1.64 grams of weight across water. When it needs to swim, HAMR emits an electrical current which allows it to begin sinking below the surface. Of course, rising back up is a problem for such a tiny robot, so the research team are looking into mechanics which won’t require HAMR to ramp slowly back up as it currently does.
So when the world is a barren, radioactive wasteland, even the cockroaches will still be in danger of a robot apocalypse. Nobody is safe.