By Phil Barker
Meet the plant-inspired robot that can double its own body length hundreds of times at speeds of up to 22mph.
We’ve seen plenty of bionic robots that mimic life to great effect, from fish-like drones to an amazing robotic racing suit, but there aren’t many that mimic plants. That’s exactly what a creation from University of California roboticist Elliot Hawkes and mechanical engineers at Stanford University does, taking inspiration from vines in order to grow in length at incredible speeds.
Hawkes and his team has developed a robot that can double its body length hundreds of times at speeds of up to 22 mph (35.4 kph) – much faster than the average person can run. The robot, mimicking ivy growth, could one day be used for search and rescue operations to pass oxygen or water to trapped survivors, to deliver water to the base of a fire instead of firefighters having to risk their lives, or as a part of minimally invasive surgeries.