Contrary to how its name sounds, the SAW robot is not some gruesome, blood-thirsty decapitating machine: it’s actually a cute robot that will be taking robotics to a whole new level. Engineers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev developed the first Single Actuator Wave-like robot (SAW) that can move forward or backward in a wave-like motion.
The 3D-printed SAW has the ability to slither over obstacles or crawl through sand, grass, and gravel. And it has a speed of up to 2.5 inches (57 centimeters) per second. That may not sound all that fast, but it is five times faster than similar robots. It can also climb easily through tunnels at a rate of eight centimeters per second, even when it is touching both sides.
Also, it was 3D-printed.
“Researchers all over the world have been trying to create a wave movement for 90 years,” says Dr. David Zarrouk, of BGU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and head of the Bio-Inspired and Medical Robotics Lab. But why would anyone want a weird, slithering robot? The team asserts that it can be used for search and rescue as well as for medical purposes.
Notably, the robot can be built to size, so it can travel through our intestine for imaging and biopsies, or be made bigger for infiltrating problematic, complex security areas or places with known hazards—such as tunnels, destroyed buildings and pipes.
After 90 years of trying, engineers finally succeeded at designing a robot that can move in waves for the first time. This snake-inspired motion enables the robot to move back and forth and overcome unstable, erratic terrain, as well as swim.