According tomedia New Atlas, one of the main uses of foot robots is to explore the scene of the disaster. However, when walking on these ruins, they need to move quickly and do not fall. That’s why scientists at the University of California, San Diego, have designed a new foot-type robot filled with coffee grounds.
Each foot of this foot robot consists of a soft latex ball filled with loose dry coffee grounds. In addition to coffee, each foot contains an internal support structure for plant roots. When moving in the air, the feet remain soft and moist. However, when the feet meet the ground and conform to the irregular contours of the ground, they harden. This is due to a phenomenon called “grain-stuck”, in which coffee grounds get stuck temporarily when they are under pressure.
As a result, each foot can be found on uneven ground, and every time it lands. This can be done passively, because the weight of the robot can hold the coffee residue together, or it can be done actively, i.e. by vacuum pumping air out of the sphere, thus stuck to them.
When the robot walks on wood chips or pebbles, it moves 40 percent faster than it does with normal rigid feet. This is partly due to the fact that the coffee feet reduced the depth of the robot’s appendages into the wood chips/pebbles by an average of 62% and reduced the pull by 98%.
They also give robots better grip on uneven and flat surfaces. The researchers found that active interference systems work edbetter on the former, while passive systems are better suited to the latter. The plan now is to install sensors at the bottom of the foot to determine the characteristics of the ground before the foot touches the ground.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of adding coffee scum to robotic devices. They have been used in a crawler called Versaball, and mIT has also used them as “like noses” for robots that grab objects.