Check out the worm-bot
This robot is modeled after the Caenorhabditis elegans, a tiny roundworm whose very simple nervous system allows it to carry out complex body movements. Its designer Dr. Jordan Boyle, from the schools of Computing and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leeds, hopes that this robot can one day be used for rescue missions.
Endowing it with the ability to move through irregular crevices and around unexpected obstacles, the worm-bot could be sent into environments affected by fires, floods or explosions.
What makes the worm-bot different from other snake or worm-like robots? Typically such robots move forward in an ideal motion that their control system has worked out in advance. If something gets in the way of the robot’s path, its control system informs it on how to change its shape accordingly. Contrary to these types of robots, the worm-bot adapts blindly to its environment, just like the little creature it’s modeled after. It doesn’t actually need to know that it has changed the shape of its body in order to keep going, it simply keeps going.
However, this means that at this stage of the worm-bot’s development, it actually has no idea where it will end up and so there’s still a small chance it could get stuck somewhere along the way. According to Boyle, a future version of the worm-bot will likely have an extra layer of intelligence allowing it to wiggle out of a particularly tight corner.
Find out more about the worm-bot featured in NewScientist