BGU Researcher Creates New Robot Based On Cockroaches


The AmphiSTAR uses a sprawling mechanism inspired by cockroaches

Dr. David Zarrouk And His Robot Courtessy BGU

Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva continues to show that even the Negev region of Irael is an integral part of Startup Nation’s technological innovations. Its scientists have created a new high-speed amphibious robot whose design was inspired by the movements of cockroaches and lizards.

This little robot called AmphiSTAR can swim and run on top of water at high speeds and can also crawl on difficult terrain.

God once taught King David a lesson for questioning his wisdom when David asked why he created spiders. King David so no value in them.

Well if you have felt the same way about cockroaches, now you may understand a little better what they have offered the world and humanity. Even if this is the only thing positive that will ever come out of the little creatures which everyone finds disgusting it will be something.

The new small robot is just the beginning. The hope is that its abilities will be applied to agriculture as well as searching for things underground. Small probes can be invaluable to all manner of research involved in mining, agriculture and other underwater or underground ventures.

Now imagine a robot probe which can crawl around and reconfigure itself for smaller spaces like a cockroach does when it has to squeeze through a narrow opening.

The mechanical design of the AmphiSTAR robot and its control system were presented virtually last week at the IROS (International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems) by Dr. David Zarrouk (pictured below right), director of the Bioinspired and Medical Robotics Laboratory in BGU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, along with graduate student Avi Cohen.

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

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

David Zarrouk, Ph.D.
He is a Senior Lecturer (assistant professor) at the ME department of Ben Gurion University of the Negev and director of the Bioinspired and Medical Robotics Laboratory.
He received an M.Sc. in 2007 (in stochastic mechanics) and Ph.D in 2011 (in medical robotics) degrees from the faculty of mechanical engineering at the Technion. Between Aug. 2011 and Oct. 2013, he was a postdoctoral scholar at the Biomimetics and Millisystems Lab. in the EECS Dep. of U.C. Berkeley, working on miniature crawling robots.

His research interests are in the fields of biomimetics, millisystems, miniature robotics, flexible and slippery interactions, space robotics, underactuated and minimally actuated mechanisms and theoretical kinematics.
David Zarrouk received many prizes for excellence in research and teaching, which include a Fulbright postdoctoral Fellowship, Fulbright-Ilan Ramon postdoctoral Fellowship, Hershel Rich Innovation award, Aharon and Ovadia Barazani prize for excellent Ph.D. thesis, and Alfred and Yehuda Weisman prize for consistent excellence in teaching.

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