Science

Amoeba Locomotion Being Researched

Posted 10 Nov 2005 at 02:33 UTC by The Swirling Brain Share This

Ever played with one of those tubey toy things that you just can't grab a hold of because it slips out of your hand by turning itself inside out? Well, The Discovery Channel website has and article about how researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute are researching making whole skin robot locomotion that moves like pseudopod amoebas. The idea is that pseudopod amoebas move by flowing and oozing their endoplasm out the front where it becomes gelatinous ectoplasm and at the same time the ectoplasm at the tail of the amoeba liquefies into endoplasm and flows inside. The VT tech guys didn't exactly replicate the gelatinous pseudopod method of locomotion but instead used that tubey toy thing for a whole skin sort of amoeba propulsion. The skin moves either by contracting and expanding or by embedded ring-shaped devices that contract and expand, forcing the skin to slide forward. One of the cool features this robot has is the ability to squeeze through openings less than half its diameter. You can see video of the ameoba robot research on the Discovery Channel website.


Same as multi-sided tank tracks?, posted 10 Nov 2005 at 15:16 UTC by Rog-a-matic » (Master)

From a practical robot-locomotion standpoint, the resulting action is similar to tank tracks with the main differences being that the organism can move forward independent of it's orientation (possibly a disadvantage), and the flexibility that allows shrinkage of a cross section so it to move through an opening smaller than it's average body diameter.

I can envision a couple of ways to pull this off in a super-scale mechanical model - maybe 10" long.

But how would you keep the unit from rotating without sensors to detect orientation and additional actuators to control that?

Roger

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