In a paper recently published in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, Zarrouk describes his latest innovative robot: SAW, or Single-Actuator Wave robot, “a novel bioinspired robot which can move forward or backward by producing a continuously advancing wave.” Basically, SAW moves around by doing the worm non-stop. Funky.
As far as I can tell, real worms don’t actually get around by doing the worm. The worm (the dance, that is) is a large amplitude continuously advancing sine wave, which is also how SAW moves. Earthworms, on the other hand, move in a more stretchy—grippy—contracty way (a longitudinal wave). The kind of wave locomotion that SAW uses (a transverse wave) is much more common in ocean animals, and at very small scales (like tiny organisms that swim using flagella). The appeal is that it’s a very simple motion, leading to a minimalist design that achieves high performance, although figuring out how to make it work was quite a challenge…
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