The first single actuator wave-like robot (SAW) has been developed by engineers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The 3D-printed robot can move forward or backward in a wave-like motion, moving much like a worm would in a perpendicular wave.
SAW can climb over obstacles or crawl through unstable terrain like sand, grass, and gravel, reaching a top speed of 22.5 in/sec, five times faster than similar robots. Its minimalistic mechanical design produces an advancing sine wave with a large amplitude, using only a single motor with no internal straight spine. The breakthrough was published in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics.
"Researchers all over the world have been trying to create a wave movement for 90 years," says Dr. David Zarrouk at the university’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and head of the Bio-Inspired and Medical Robotics Lab.
"We succeeded by finding a simple, unique solution that enables the robot to be built in different sizes for different purposes. For example, it can be scaled up for search and rescue and maintenance, or miniaturized to a diameter of one centimeter or less to travel within the human body for medical purposes, such as imaging and biopsies of the digestive system."