You can’t squash this roach-inspired robot

Research co-authored by grad student Justin Yim and EE Profs. Ron Fearing and Robert Full, among others, has resulted in the creation of a small cockroach-inspired robot so hardy that it can survive being crushed underfoot.  The robot, which is about the size of a large postage stamp, is made of a thin sheet of a piezoelectric material called polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF).  Applying electric voltage to PVDF causes it to expand or contract, creating oscillations that propel the device forward.  The robot can sail along the ground at a speed of 20 body lengths per second, said to be the fastest pace among insect-scale robots.  Their paper was published in the journal Science Robotics.