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Meet HAMR, the Cockroach-Inspired Robot


If you’ve ever tried to kill an interloping cockroach, you’ve probably noticed two things: they’re fast and nearly invincible. While those features make roaches terrifying to most people, it’s a source of bioinspiration for roboticists at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).

Led by Robert J. Wood, Core Faculty at Wyss Institute, researchers in the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory have developed a centimeter-scale robot inspired by cockroaches.

The Harvard Ambulatory Microrobot — nicknamed HAMR — is a versatile robot that can run at high speeds, jump, climb, turn sharply, carry payloads and fall from great distances without being injured.

“The HAMR platform evolved from our exploration of millimeter-scale fabrication and actuation strategies,” said Wood, who is also the Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at SEAS. “Our techniques allow us to create robots that don’t sacrifice complexity as the size is reduced and enabled us to create robots that rival some of the capabilities of their biological counterparts. These robots are as valuable for biological studies as they will eventually be for tasks such as search and rescue and infrastructure inspection.”

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