The robots that attract the most attention in our robots category are those that jump, move, run and make really unexpected movements. It seems that the future of robots is determined precisely to achieve things that humans cannot, and speed is critical at that point.
If we take that into account … why have they created a sloth-shaped robot that moves as slow as the animal it imitates?
The invention is by Magnus Egerstedt, a professor of robotics at Georgia Tech, who was inspired by some lazy people he met in Costa Rica to explore the idea of slowness as a design paradigm. With that in mind, I designed the robot SlothBot.
It moves very slowly, and it is packed with sensors to analyze its surroundings. Of course, static sensors could have been put in their place, but in this case their movement has two fundamental advantages:
– It does not consume much energy. – It manages to slowly move the position of the sensors to find sunlight, the source of its energy.
The idea is that it can be used under a dense canopy of trees, analyzing its surroundings for weeks or months. SlothBot can crawl out from under a tree to find some sunshine to recharge, bask in the sun for a while, and then crawl again to resume data collection.
The lazy design has no technical purpose, but they believe that in this way they can also help to get kids excited about robotics and / or conservation biology.
They comment at the IEEE that SlothBot is part of a larger design philosophy that the professor has started calling Robot Ecology.
The design of the robot must be understood in the environmental context in which it will be implemented.
They believe that in this way it is possible to create robots suspended at the bottom of the ocean to track pollutants or sloths that analyze temperature variations.
Hopefully no predator arrives thinking that it is a living being and we are left without sensors, although most of these predators smell before opening their mouths.