Research Press Release

Robotics: Turtle-inspired amphibious robot


October 13, 2022

A robot that can morph between tortoise-like and turtle-like configurations to navigate between terrestrial and aquatic environments is presented in Nature this week. The work provides a strategy for improving the design of robots that can move efficiently across different environments.

Mobile robots are often optimized for movement over a specific niche; those that traverse different environments may not move with equal efficiency over all environments. Amphibious robots that can navigate both in and out of water could find practical applications in bio-monitoring, disaster response and security, as well as providing a means for studying animal locomotion.

Inspired by turtles and their land-dwelling counterparts, tortoises, Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio and colleagues design an adaptive robot with limbs that can morph to best suit the environment. Their Amphibious Robotic Turtle can adapt both its gait and shape of limbs. Over land, the legs have a load-bearing conformation mimicking that of a tortoise. The material used to make these limbs can vary its stiffness, and convert into flat flippers, allowing the robot to swim like a turtle in water.

The morphing strategy in this study may assist the development of a future generation of autonomous systems that can dynamically adapt their bodies for optimal performance across different environments, the authors conclude.


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