'Terradynamics' Predicts Robot Mobility on Granular Surfaces

New research from Georgia Tech could help create and advance the field of 'terradynamics' - a name the researchers have given to the science of legged animals and vehicles moving on granular and other complex surfaces. Predicting this type of movement could allow designers to optimize legged robots operating in complex environments for search-and-rescue missions, space exploration, or other tasks. The Georgia Tech researchers examined the motion of a small legged robot as it moved on granular media. Using a 3D printer, they created legs in a variety of shapes and used them to study how different configurations affected the robot's speed along a track bed. They then measured granular force laws from experiments to predict forces on legs, and created simulation to predict the robot's motion.