“Animal + robot” gave birth to a new type of biological robot
Recently, scientists at Osaka University designed a Robotic cockroach and optimized its movement using machine learning-based automatic stimulation of the robotic cockroach. This is a new product born under a brand-new concept. In the past, bionic Robots used other materials to imitate the robot body made of animals. This time, technological elements are directly added to the animals, which is the fusion of animals and robots. .
Hundreds of years of evolutionary history have endowed animals in nature with excellent abilities to survive in harsh environments. If these advantages can be utilized and combined with human advanced mechanical science and technology, it will be a new way to break through the bottleneck of the existing robot field.
Insects have simpler neuromuscular pathways and are more likely to invasively stimulate the peripheral nervous system, making their muscles easier to control and thus attracting more attention from scientists. Therefore, scientists tried to implant electrodes in the cockroach’s tail wire to stimulate the cockroach through electrical signals, so that the cockroach could move according to the controller’s ideas.
Creatures like cockroaches like to move in dark places. Some people say it is photophobia, but it is actually a living habit deeply embedded in their genes. So can such a habit be artificially changed? Can cockroaches have the same mobility no matter day or night?
The answer is yes. Building controllable machines directly on these animals, controlling their movements by implanting stimulating electrodes into their brains or peripheral nervous systems, and even seeing what they see through monitors, is the so-called cyborg.
Cockroaches have amazing locomotor abilities, significantly better than any bionic robot of similar size. Therefore, robotic cockroaches with such agile locomotor abilities are more suitable for performing search and rescue tasks in unknown environments that are difficult for conventional robots to enter.
However, since cockroaches are nocturnal and are more active at night or in the dark, in some cases they are too lazy to move from one place to another or tend to stay still, especially in corner areas. This will limit the search and rescue effect of robot cockroaches in unknown environments, and it is also difficult to transmit real-time images to the monitor through the mini camera in a dark environment. Cases using robotic insects.
The researchers used an inertial measurement unit (IMU) to capture the linear acceleration and angular velocity of the cyborg insects, and used the data measured by the IMU for deep learning. Based on the collected data, they used the electronic backpack of the cockroach for control, improving the search speed and speed of the cockroach. Travel distance, and reduce the cockroach stay time in the bounded space, to achieve the desired effect.
The researchers first immersed the cockroaches in a small piece of ice for 30 minutes to anesthetize them, and used this time to implant platinum electrodes in the cockroaches’ chest cavity, right coccyx, and left coccyx. Use a 54mm female 5-pin single row as the connector between the cockroach and the electronic backpack. The connector is glued to the first section of the roach’s chest. Tinned annealed copper wire (single wire) with a diameter of 0.26 mm was used as the wire extension from the implanted platinum to the plug pin connector.
This method of using electrical stimulation is a solution with room for improvement.AIThe data determined by the algorithm through on-board measurements can better solve the problem of robot flexibility and freedom. Scientists don’t have to control the cockroach like a robot, but rely on the cockroach’s own mobility to stimulate it a little. For example, in a rescue scene, you only need to turn his body or stimulate the cockroach when the direction is wrong, so that the cockroach can start to some difficult-to-access places according to its own habits and the direction the control personnel want.
It is understood that after being equipped with such a system on the cockroach, the robot cockroach successfully increased its average search rate and moving distance by 68% and 70%, respectively, while reducing the stopping time by 78%. “We have shown that it is feasible to electrically stimulate the cockroach’s tail filaments to trigger free locomotion of the motor; it can overcome its innate habit, for example, in dark and cold environments that normally reduce movement,” the researchers said in an interview. Get more exercise.”
Although R&D is moving in a positive direction, there is still a long way to go before it is actually put into use. An interesting question is, for example, in the rescue of an earthquake, the victim was already very fragile when he was waiting for rescue under the ruins. If a cockroach suddenly appeared near him at this time, it might aggravate his fear. It may break the psychological line of defense, resulting in despair or giving up; if it is a rescue at a fire scene, whether the cockroaches are still the correct carrier in the high temperature and other harsh environments on the fire scene, and how the electronic components work in such a high temperature environment are all to be determined. The question of verification.
Nowadays, all kinds of robots are being developed, and researchers are trying various ideas to develop new robots, in order to make robots have broader uses and open up a larger market. Some organizations predict that in another 20 years, the ratio of robots to humans will reach 4:1. That is, everyone will be served by 4 robots, which will place greater demands on the functions, performance and uses of robots.
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