Materials

Cockroach-Like Robot Can Scurry Away After Being Stepped On

An insect-sized robot created by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley can run at about the speed of a cockroach and is nearly as hardy. When stepped on, it still functions, according to the researchers. The robot is made of a thin sheet of a piezoelectric material called polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF). The researchers coated the PVDF in a layer of an elastic polymer, which causes the entire sheet to bend, instead of to expand or contract. They then added a front leg so that, as the material bends and straightens under an electric field, the oscillations propel the device forward. Small-scale robots like these could be useful in search and rescue missions.