CLARI is a squishable robot that can change its shape to fit through narrow gaps, inspired by bugs. CLARI, which stands for Compliant Legged Articulated Robotic Insect, was created by a team of engineers at the University of Colorado Boulder. It has the potential to be used by first responders in disaster situations. The tiny robot can transform from a square shape to a long and slender shape when needed. The researchers behind CLARI published their study in the journal “Advanced Intelligent Systems.”
CLARI has four legs at the moment, but the design allows engineers to add or remove legs as needed. This flexibility opens up the possibility of creating robots with various leg configurations in the future. The researchers have even imagined an eight-legged spider-style robot that could walk on a web. The modular design of CLARI makes it easy to customize and adapt for different tasks.
While CLARI is still in its early stages, the researchers envision a future where these small robots can navigate and explore spaces that are inaccessible to humans. Imagine a robot crawling inside a jet engine or searching through rubble after a building collapse. These petite machines have the potential to assist in search and rescue operations.
CLARI draws inspiration from animals and their ability to change shape. Most robots today have a standard cube-like shape, but the researchers believe that robots should come in different shapes and sizes, just like animals. The team is striving to create general-purpose robots that can adapt to any environment and change shape accordingly.
CLARI can change its shape by compressing its legs. It can go from being a square to a wider crab-like shape or a more elongated shape similar to a cockroach. Each leg of CLARI functions independently, with its own circuit board and actuators. This modularity allows the robot to take on various shapes and adapt to different situations.
The researchers are working towards making CLARI smaller, more agile, and equipped with sensors to detect obstacles. They also aim to find the right balance between flexibility and strength as they add more legs to the robot. Ultimately, they want to develop shape-changing robots that can navigate complex natural environments and overcome obstacles.
By creating robots like CLARI with the capabilities of insects or spiders, researchers can explore spaces that were previously inaccessible. These robots can be equipped with cameras or sensors to gather valuable information in these environments.