Roaches and Robots

No longer just the stuff of science fiction, roach meets robot thanks to The U.S. Army Research Laboratory.


You may not like them in your home, but you have to admit: Roaches have it going on in the survival department. Tough to kill, these creepycrawlers seem to be able to flatten out so they can live through even the biggest book or boot smashing down on them.

Such adaptability is extremely useful in moving through confined spaces, which is why researchers at University of California-Berkeley, supported by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL), developed cockroach-inspired crawling robots. Dubbed “CRAM” (Compressible Robot with Articulated Mechanisms), the “origami-style, soft, legged robot” prototype is designed to move through rubble in the aftermath of natural disasters or explosions.

Another important feature they’re working on is self-righting technology to get the robots back on their feet after tipping over. According to ARL researcher Chad Kessens, "One Solider I spoke with valued his robot so much that he got out of the safety of his vehicle to rescue it when he was unable to get it back on its tracks after many attempts. This is exactly what we do not want, and Soldiers should not be tempted to risk themselves for a robot.”


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