Snails with benefits? Our salt shaker might disagree. But some enterprising engineers over at Japan’s Chuo University managed to turn this garden-variety pest into fodder for mechatronic inspiration. Based on the gastropod’s preferred method of ‘galloping’ — wherein waves of foot-to-head muscle contractions propel it forward — researchers at the Mechatronics Lab created TORo II, an omnidirectional robot that could make its way to a hospital near you. Why’s that? Well, the bot’s large gripped surface area makes it ideal for narrow, slippery environments — so it won’t budge if knocked into (though you might wind up on the emergency room floor). Although the unique movement technique has been used to create other mecha-mollusks in the past, the team behind this project made sure to create some of their own ceiling and wall-climbing critters — suction definitely included. We admit, we kind of feel guilty about the sodium chloride transgressions of our youth. And now that we know snails can be useful, it’s only a matter of time before the bedbug gets repurposed. Full omnidirectional video awesomeness after the break.
Japanese TORo II gallops ahead at a mechanical snail’s pace (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 06 Jul 2011 21:13:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.