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 Researchers learn why robots get stuck in the sand - and how to keep them going

This story is from the category Artificial Intelligence
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Date posted: 10/02/2009

A new study published February 10 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences takes what may be the first detailed look at the problem of robot locomotion on granular surfaces. Among the study's recommendations: robots attempting to move across sandy terrain should move their legs more slowly, especially if the sand is loosely packed.

"We have discovered that when a robot rotates its legs too fast or the sand is packed loosely enough, the robot transitions from a rapid walking motion to a much slower swimming motion," said Daniel Goldman, an assistant professor in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. This project was funded by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.

The physics of movement on granular media has been largely unexplored systematically, so Goldman and his team set out to systematically investigate the performance of a small six-legged device called SandBot.

"This is new territory because researchers have not examined the interaction between an animal's foot and sand like they have a whale or duck's flipper and water," said Goldman. "Sand is a uniquely challenging terrain because it can shift quite easily from solid to fluid to solid and requires different locomotion strategies."

See the full Story via external site: www.physorg.com



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