A salamander-like amphibious robot that moves swiftly on land and water has recently been introduced by scientists for two main purposes: for scientific research and for its eventual use in search-and-rescue operations.
A report on Singularity Hub said that researchers at the EPFL Biorobotics Laboratory in Switzerland and the University of Bordeaux in France spent years working on what they now call the Salamandra Robotica II. Compared with the first version, this one swims and crawls faster and has more powerful microcontrollers.
It’s not at all surprising to see that a lot of these robots are being made like land and water animals. Scientists find it fascinating to explore the locomotive systems of these animals, and that’s why they turned them into robots. The Salamandra Robotica II is not that easy to develop. After all, this robot moves on both land and water, which means that its controllers would have to be able to adjust to the environment.
In 2007, the researchers published an article in Science magazine that announced the development of a salamander-like robot with four legs and an actuated spine. This second version is apparently more powerful than the device introduced in 2007, according to the researchers’ report. It said that the Salamandra Robotica II is probably the only robot that can swim, crawl and walk.
The Salamandra can either be short or long since each of its modules has its own microcontroller, battery and motors. You can split the robot or add more pieces to it, the report said. It speaks a lot about the robustness of the robot. This device won’t easily be damaged; and if it did, you can simply change the module that was broken.
What it Does
There are two main reasons why scientists decided to develop this amphibious robot. The first one is they would like to use it for scientific research. The scientists are planning to use this bot to make some experiments about the neural circuits underlying locomotion in the spinal cord of vertebrae animals. The circuits apparently produce complex patterns from signals received from the controller. The command comes from the brain of the vertebrae animal.
There is another purpose for producing this device. This salamander-like robot can also act as a prototype for a larger scale in the future. Such a device would be able to help in search-and-rescue missions as well in military strikes. Instead of sending soldiers to the battlefield, using robots (albeit expensive) can be an alternative. This will significantly reduce the number of casualties during operations.
So why the salamander? The researchers specifically chose the salamander, so that they can study the wiring of its nervous system. As mentioned above, a salamander’s neural-like circuits extend through its spinal cord.
Aside from this amphibious robot, Biorobotics Laboratory is also in the process of creating robots that look like an eel, a snake, a centipede and other animals. Who knows? Maybe in the near future, we will find ourselves assisted by robots for our everyday errands.