Home Technology How dare these monsters and monsters call their machines “human beings”?

How dare these monsters and monsters call their machines “human beings”?

How dare these monsters and monsters call their machines

This year is the year of the boom for humanoid robots. Tesla’s Optimus continues to release new progress videos to stir people’s nerves. Fourier Intelligence, Agility Robotics are both announcing themselves as the world’s first mass-produced humanoid robot.

Before humanoid robots, the robot dog trend started by Boston Dynamics was also popular. At present, robot dog products have entered many industrial fields for practical applications. However, both humanoid robots and robot dogs are still simulating the most common types of creatures in our lives, walking on two or four legs.

Maybe you have thought about whether this design is too rigid? Robots are completely different from humans in that they are not subject to any physical limitations. Don’t they deserve a more imaginative design ?

That’s exactly what some scientists think.

In this article, eRise Technologies will dig into some creative robot walking designs. Although many of these designs are still in the early stages of research, these designs have the potential to break the mold and shape the future of robotics.

Robot Transformation

Transformable robots sound like the closest thing to a robot in science fiction. One of people’s earliest fantasies about robots is robots like Transformers.

A team of engineers from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland designed such a robot.

Unlike our common robots that are fixed into a certain shape in the early stages of design, the robot Mori3 designed by the team from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland is composed of a bunch of scattered “triangles” that will automatically combine when completing specific tasks . , forming the most suitable form for completing the task .

Carefully observe each triangle of Mori3. The triangle itself can actually change. The three sides of the triangle can be stretched and transformed from an equilateral triangle into a more irregular triangle. On each side of the triangle, there is a slot that can be connected to other triangles.

According to the researcher, the great thing about Mori3 is that not only can the triangle be disassembled and assembled at will, but the triangle actually contains components that can communicate, so the triangles can communicate with each other and assemble themselves .

As a deformable robot made of triangles, Mori3 can walk in different ways according to needs. When forming a quadruped robot, its legs can be long or short, and on a flat surface, it can also be directly formed into a wheel-like form.

The reason why triangles are used is explained by the researchers: triangles are the smallest structure of polygons, and the underlying technology of Moris is polygon mesh processing, a technology that can divide polygons into multiple seamlessly connected small modules.

Robots like Mori3 are a type of transformable robot. In the paper, the researchers wrote: “Transformable robots can possess a wide range of functionality, but this has so far been limited by the difficulty in balancing morphological flexibility and solving specific applications.”

Mori3, announced in June 2023, validates polygon mesh processing as a viable robotics strategy. By abstracting three-dimensional structures, robots using polygonal meshes can create a variety of shapes and be dynamically controlled.

Mori3 can already achieve many functions, such as moving, handling objects and interacting with people. The researcher provided several possible functions of Mori3 in home scenarios: it can be used to move furniture; it can be fixed on the ceiling and used as a “third hand”, hanging down to automatically pick up some items to their proper places.

However, such robots are currently more likely to be used in the aviation field. “General-purpose robots like Mori3 are not as efficient as specialized robots in certain areas. In other words, the biggest selling point of Mori3 is its versatility .” researcher Jamie Paik mentioned.

In the aviation field, the use of such reconfigurable modules can effectively reduce payload mass and thus reduce propellant requirements. The deformability also allows it to easily pass through some complex terrain and reorganize after reaching the location to meet the needs.

A robot that walks through explosions

Usually when we talk about robots, we think of large robots. In fact, there are a lot of interesting things happening in the field of robotics on a smaller scale.

In a paper published in Science magazine on September 14, scientists have just announced that they have created a micro-robot that moves in a very strange way – it walks by repeatedly self-destructing to generate thrust .

The small quadruped robot in the video only has four legs, but it can perform high-frequency “tap dance” and jump to a hundred times the height of its body. The dynamic visual effect is somewhat reminiscent of the exaggerated visual effects of Mickey’s animation.

According to reports, the robot is only 29 mm long and weighs only 1.6 grams. It is an “insect-level” robot . But it can jump 59 centimeters vertically and walk carrying 22 times its own weight.

Helping the robot accomplish this are its specially designed drives.

Unlike traditional robots that use battery power to drive, the drive it uses can be described as a very small, very soft internal combustion engine with a soft combustion chamber.

This balloon-like soft combustion chamber is installed in the middle of the leg. Methane steam and oxygen are injected into it. When movement is required, a very small spark will ignite these gases, causing an explosion. At the moment of explosion, the combustion chamber will inflate like a balloon, generating a force that drives the robot upward .

The robot currently has four legs, but only two actuators on each side of its body. Through such a design, some motion control can be achieved. For example, triggering two actuators at the same time will make the robot move forward, and triggering only one side can make the robot rotate or control the direction.

Researchers said that in fact, robots using such actuators do not really need to use leg structures. “It could be the form of a fast squirming bug, or the form of an insect flapping its wings quickly,” said Robert F. Shepherd of Cornell University’s laboratory.

Researchers at Cornell University initially explored using “self-destruction” to move forward, mainly because small robots cannot use electric solutions like larger robots . Neither batteries nor electric drives can scale down very well.

However, after conducting miniaturization research, researchers are now working on a bolder idea: applying countless such small explosion-driven actuators to large robots and becoming part of the artificial muscles of large rigid robots.

The energy density of chemical fuels is much greater than that of batteries. Using such a small explosion method to operate, the robot’s movement can be stronger and faster, and the load it can bear can be larger.

Snake Advance

When it comes to robot walking, our most intuitive idea is to think of bipedal robots or four-legged robots, especially four-legged robots, which are almost the first choice for robot walking.

In 2021, NASA held the BIG Idea Challenge, in which participants were challenged to design a robot that could survive in extreme terrain such as the moon’s craters and send data back to Earth.

The winners from Northeastern University have designed jumping, legged, wheeled and even tumbling robots. Wheeled robots will sink into the regolith and cannot safely travel on steep terrain ; bipedal robots will also sink and have poor stability in sandy environments; and jumping robots will be difficult to maneuver without causing damage or being destroyed. Launch and land without getting stuck.

The tumbling robot performs relatively well among them and can reach the crater safely. However, once it reaches the crater, the tumbling robot is poor at accurately manipulating scientific instruments to complete the task. It can only advance by tumbling and has poor control over its movement. Also worse.

Ultimately, the team used rattlesnake inspiration to design a snake-like robot .

In addition to the snake body twisting forward, the snake-like design also allows the robot to curl directly into a spiral and directly form a wheeled style, allowing it to slide down the slope faster.

A miniature neutron spectrometer is designed at the tail of the snake body, which can measure changes in neutron energy on the lunar surface and identify hydrogen deep in the Shackleton Crater to identify whether it contains water.

In fact, it’s becoming increasingly common for robots to take on the shape of a snake to explore space.

In May 2023, in another space exploration mission, NASA has just launched a robot weighing about 100 kilograms and 4 meters long to explore whether there are signs of life on Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

Unlike the craters on the moon, Enceladus’s surface is frozen. Therefore, in the EELS project, the snake-like robot has a spiral surface to increase friction . In order to explore the world under the frozen water, the snake robot is also designed to swim.

Designing a snake robot is difficult. “Real snakes rely on the microstructure of the scales on their bodies to move, which we can’t replicate, so it seems likely that the right movement pattern would allow a robotic snake to twist in place without any forward movement.” Caltech Professor Christoph Koch said.

At present, snake robots, especially those that move autonomously, are still in a relatively cutting-edge field. “There is no textbook on how to design autonomous snake robots. We have to write our own. That’s what we are doing now,” said EELS principal investigator Hiro Ono.

In the future, snake-like robots may also have flight capabilities .

Last year, in a paper published in the journal “Physics of Fluids”, scholars from the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech collected data on a flying snake, the Paradise Golden Snake, analyzed it, and revealed that the Paradise Golden Flower Flower snake flight airflow mechanism. The report stated that although these technologies have not been applied to robots immediately, it is likely that researchers will further add such movement mechanisms to snake-like robots.

Will future robots not need machines?

There are many robots inspired by biological simulation, but the future robot army may not be made of steel at all, but remote-controlled cockroach cyborgs that do not require charging ?

In September, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore developed a new non-invasive method of controlling cockroaches, allowing cockroaches to be used by humans and become cockroach cyborgs.

The research team found a way to put a special sleeve on cockroaches. The sleeve is made of gold and plastic and shrinks like plastic shrink wrap when exposed to UV light.

At the same time, the researchers put a small backpack on the cockroach, which can remotely receive signals from the controller. In this way, once a signal is received, the small backpack will selectively stimulate the cockroach’s antennae based on the signal, thereby guiding the cockroach to change its direction . The researchers also glued an electrode to the cockroach’s abdomen, and when stimulated in the right way, the cockroach would run faster or slower.

In a series of tests conducted by researchers, the cockroach cyborg was able to completely follow orders and run on the S-shaped track.

In fact, people have been trying to create animal cyborgs for a long time, but remote control usually cannot achieve the relevant accuracy. Therefore, it is often necessary to use brain-computer interfaces, technology to insert electrodes to directly control muscles, and genetic modification technology. control. This control of cockroaches is a breakthrough in the control accuracy of non-invasive control.

If this technology can make further breakthroughs, directly using biological organisms to create robots may be an ethically controversial but technically promising route compared to using biological simulation robots.


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