A robotic crab to explore the seas

A researcher at the University of Bath in the UK, has built a prototype of a crab-like robot with Lego Technic bricks to ensure simplicity. This robotic crab can work on land or under water. Even if this robot has been developed with technology used for toys, it could be used by the oil and gas industry, marine research or any companies that require independent underwater vehicles. The robotic crab was designed like a real one, with four pairs of legs divided in two halves. And like real ones, it can avoid obstacles. But read more...

A researcher at the University of Bath in the UK has built a prototype of a crab-like robot with Lego Technic bricks to ensure simplicity. This robotic crab can work on land or under water. Even if this robot has been developed with technology used for toys, it could be used by the oil and gas industry, marine research or any companies that require independent underwater vehicles. The robotic crab was designed like a real one, with four pairs of legs divided in two halves. And like real ones, it can avoid obstacles. But read more...

The Bath robot in front of a pebble

You can see above the robotic crab in front of a pebble on a beach. (Credit: University of Bath)

The Bath robot after avoiding a pebble

And you can see that the robot successfully was able to climb the pebble and leave it behind it. (Credit: University of Bath) These two pictures have been extracted from this short video (AVI format, 33 seconds, 120 MB).

This robot has been designed and built by Charles Gage, a graduate student at the Department of Mechanical Engineering and trying to get a MSc in Biomimetics and Technical Creativity.

Why did he try to build a crab-like robot? "'Nature knows what works best and can be a source of inspiration for engineering design,' said Gage. 'Crabs are perfect models for the kind of robot we wanted because they are 'tried and tested' amphibious vehicles. 'We studied the way crabs walk, their posture, gait and stride length. Then we applied this information on a model robot.'"

Here are some additional comments from Gage. "'This biomimetic design is very stable, allows changes in direction and prevents mechanical interference between legs.' The robot can also vary its walking speed by changing stride length, just as crabs do in Nature, whilst maintaining the same motor speed. 'This unique approach makes this robot very energy-efficient,' added Charles. 'We tested the crab robot on Minehead Beach in Somerset, England, in early September 2007. The robot performed exceptionally well and tackled the beach, scrambling over pebbles and small stones easily.'"

Now, it remains to be seen if such a robot could really be used by the oil and gas industry, which is not known for using toy-based technology.

Sources: University of Bath news release, March 18, 2008; and various websites

You'll find related stories by following the links below.