What you see in movies that depicted strange robots that are capable of doing just about anything are slowing materializing and the Harvard University’s Harvard Ambulatory Microbot, or HAMR, is a robot cockroach that is part of this realization. The development of HAMR has been going on and recently, we heard that it just got an upgrade. It can now walk on and under water. I am not sure if roaches walk on water, but this robot bug surely does.
It can sink underwater at will and creep along the floor below the water. TBH, it looks more like a water strider to me, or maybe a hybrid of a roach and a water strider. Sounds like a perfect creep-you-out-robot. Luckily, it does not bear the creep-the-hell-out-of-you aesthetic. It is not as creepy as the bony robotic salamander for sure. Anyways, the breakthrough today with HAMR is its ability to transition from land to water and vice versa.
Though, at this point, it will need a slope or ramp to get on to land. The researchers are still working on how to do make it get onto land without a ramp. Other developments include giving it gecko-like adhesives so it can scale vertical surfaces and even making it leap. HAMR is able to straddle on water surface using its partially submerged oversized foot pads and it will remain on the surface until it is asked to sink to the floor of the water body.
When it needs to walk underwater, electrowetting which involves high voltage emitted from the pads help it to break the water surface tension that keeps it afloat, thus enabling it to sink down to the bottom where it can continue its journey as if it was on land. Increased friction on the front legs enable HAMR to get out of the water if there’s a small incline available. It is an interesting development which we have all but one suspect for using it: the military. Pardon for my suspicion. I have watched one too many sci-fi movies. Continue reading to see HAMR in action.
Images: Harvard University.