This centipede robot could help in rescue and exploration work

Robotics continues to amaze the world with advanced devices. And some of them are inspired by insects. This is the case of a centipede-shaped robot being developed by scientists at the University of Osaka (Japan). Its movement can alternate between walking straight and curved, which could help in search and rescue operations or planetary exploration.

Researchers at Osaka University’s Department of Mechanical Sciences and Bioengineering invented the new type of walking robot capable of changing the flexibility of couplings and turning without the need for complex control systems.

“We can envision applications in a wide variety of scenarios, such as search and rescue, working in hazardous environments, or exploring on other planets.”

— Mau Adachi, a researcher at Osaka University (Japan).

The study recently published in Soft Robotics notes that in the past, engineers who have tried to reproduce this system have found robots with legs to be surprisingly fragile. If even one leg breaks from repeated stresses, it can severely limit its function.

The new biomimetic “myriapod” takes advantage of natural instability and turns straight walking into curved movement. By means of an adjustable screw, the flexibility of the robot’s joints can be changed with motors during the walking movement. The researchers showed that increasing the flexibility of the joints produced a situation called a “forked fork”, in which walking straight becomes unstable. Instead, the robot switches to curved gait, either to the right or to the left.

“We were inspired by the ability of certain extremely agile insects that allows them to control dynamic instability in their own movement to induce rapid changes in movement,” Shinya Aoi, a researcher at Osaka University and author of the study, explained to Metro.

Metro spoke with Aoi to find out more.


segments make up the robot with two legs attached to each of them.

Watch the video of the centipede robot:


This animal-inspired quadruped robot can operate autonomously in a wide variety of environments, from industrial estates to subway sewer networks. Its four legs give it extra stability on uneven ground and allow it to climb stairs and bend down.


Created by a team of eight mechanical and electrical engineering students from ETH Zurich, this flying and diving robot combines the movements of two different animals. When diving headfirst into the water at high speed, it mimics a gannet, a large seabird. But once underwater, the robot quickly changes to take on the qualities of a king penguin.


A team of engineering students developed the concept of a hopping quadruped robot for use in space that moves similar to the African Springbok. The robot can repeatedly jump into the air like its animal namesake.


With four carbon fiber and mylar wings, plus lightweight actuators to control each wing, this robot is capable of stable flight in all directions.

shinya aoi

Osaka University researcher and study author

Q: Why were you inspired by centipedes to create this robot?

– We wanted to know how they achieve maneuverable locomotion using many legs and long bodies.

Q: What is the main feature of your invention?

– Our robot can change the direction of walking by using various curvatures of the body in curved walking.

Q: Tell us about other important elements of the robot.

– The body axis variable flexibility mechanism installed in the robot induces various curvatures of the body through the fork bifurcation. The hairpin fork destabilizes walking in a straight line, allowing the robot to quickly change direction of travel.

Q: How could it be used?

– We hope that our achievement will help create robots for search and rescue operations and planetary exploration.

Q: What future awaits your creation?

– We would like to improve our robot so that it can traverse uneven terrain.

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