This ‘amphibious’ robot was inspired by the movement of cockroaches and lizards

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University in Israel have developed a new high-speed amphibious robot inspired by the movements of cockroaches and lizards, which can swim, run on top of water at high speed and crawl on challenging terrain.

The AmphiSTAR robot was recently presented virtually at the IROS (International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems) by Dr. David Zarrouk, director, Bioinspired and Medical Robotics Laboratory in BGU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and graduate student Avi Cohen.

Zarrouk says:

“The AmphiSTAR uses a sprawling mechanism inspired by cockroaches, and it is designed to run on water at high speeds like the basilisk lizard. We envision that AmphiSTAR can be used for agricultural, search and rescue and excavation applications, where both crawling and swimming are required.”

The palm-size AmphiSTAR is a wheeled robot fitted with four propellors underneath which act like wheels over ground, but also as fins to propel the robot over water while swimming and running at high speeds of 1.5m/s. Air tanks allow it to float and also transition smoothly between the high speeds needed to hover on water and the lower speeds when swimming.

This experimental robot can crawl over gravel, grass and concrete and attain grounbreaking speeds of 3.6m/s. Zarrouk says:

“Our future research will focus on the scalability of the robot and on underwater swimming,”