Multi-environment robotic transitions through adaptive morphogenesis

The current influx of mobile robots covers environmental surveillance, management of warehouses, and extreme exploration of the environment, all the way to a home for a single consumer 1,2,3, and 4. The expanding range of use requires robotics to move through different environments, a significant issue that traditional design strategies haven’t effectively solved 5.6. For instance, biomimetic design, which is based on the morphology of animals, their gait, and propulsion mechanism–is one strategy, however, it doesn’t offer the advantages of engineered materials and mechanisms that could be used to enhance the animal’s performance 7/8. Others add a distinct propulsive system for each set within the same robot body which can result in a design that is energy inefficient 9-10,11. The majority of design methods favor immutable behaviors and structures, which results in systems that cannot be specialized over different environments 12.13. In this case, to attain specialization in multi-environment movement through aquatic, terrestrial, and between zones of transition, We implemented ‘adaptive morphogenesis a design approach that allows for the adaptive morphology of robots and behaviors to be achieved through unifying actuation and structural systems. Drawing inspiration from aquatic and terrestrial turtles, we created an autonomous robot that blends traditional rigid components with soft materials to dramatically alter the form of its limbs and change its gaits to accommodate multi-environment movement. The interaction of the limb’s shape, gait, and environment medium revealed important variables that determine the robot’s costs of transportation. The results show that adaptive morphogenesis can be a potent technique to increase the effectiveness of mobile robots in unpredictable, unstructured environments.


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