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Ninety-foot drop can't stop robot cockroach

Researchers at UC Berkeley are developing a robot cockroach that can be assembled in about an hour, move quickly, and survive 92-foot falls.

UC Berkeley

Researchers in California are developing a simple robot cockroach that can be assembled in an hour, move quickly, and survive 92-foot falls.

The Dynamic Autonomous Sprawled Hexapod, or DASH, is a neat example of the insectile robotics from UC Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab.

Robot cockroaches have been designed before, but DASH seems relatively simple to put together before it can be used to creep everyone out.

The 4-inch, 16-gram bug is put together by folding cardboard and polymer sheets. A DC motor runs the six legs while a servomotor bends the frame to induce left or right turns.

It can scoot along the ground at nearly 5 feet per second, which is equivalent to 15 body lengths, and surmount obstacles taller than itself.

Best of all, DASH's flexible frame allows it to keep on crawling even after falling from heights of up to 92 feet, according to the researchers.

Applications for the U.S. military, which is already developing miniature spy robots inspired by insects, are easy to imagine.

Meanwhile, DASH will be improved with different materials, better turning ability, and all-terrain mobility.