Researchers at Berkley have used composites to create the world’s fastest robotic roach, the X2-VelociRoACH. The robot, which is 10.4 centimeters long and weighs 1.1 ounces, can reach a top speed of 4.9 meters per second. The legs on the X2-VelociRoACH are made of fiberglass and the drive shaft is comprised of various carbon fiber components.
According to designers Duncan Haldane and Richard Fearing, 3-D printed parts were vital to the robot’s speed.
“[Other methods] did not properly constrain the drive plate at high velocities, so we employed bearings mounted in 3-D printed plastic, which were connected to the crank with a shoulder bolt,” Haldane and Fearing wrote in their research report. “We sought to enable the rapid fabrication of this robot, thus the majority of the transmission was 3-D printed, including the gears.”
The robot is also capable of carrying super lightweight aircraft. In a recent demonstration, Haldane and Fearing used the X2-VelociRoACH to facilitate the launch of a lightweight ornithopter micro-aerial vehicle (MAV) known as the H2Bird.
According to the report, Haldane and Fearing are not complacent with their progress.
“More dynamic performance from this robot is achievable if new materials and processes that further increase the durability of SCM (Smart Composites Microstructures) robots are developed,” they wrote.