For many years, roboticists have been building robots that mimic animals and their abilities. Many of these robots have been used to great effect in solving seemingly complex problems. While the effectiveness of bio-mimicry cannot be disputed, a major drawback of this method is that the robots created often inherit the limitations of the model animal. A robot that is designed to swim like a fish, for example, would find it hard to move on land. Invented by Pliant Energy Systems, Velox is a novel robot that gains strength from the limitations of bio-mimicry.
Design and features
Velox is perfectly designed and optimized to glide smoothly on land, in water, and even on ice. The highly efficient undulating system employs just one pair of ‘fins’. According to the manufacturers, the fins are best described as “four-dimensional objects with a hyperbolic geometry that allows the robot to swim like a ray, crawl like a millipede, jet like a squid, and slide like a snake.”
The machine was developed as a result of research into renewable energy generated by waves. Unlike similar devices that come with spinning blades, Velox is propelled forward by its undulating fins. The device is equipped with an onboard CPU that transmits power to the actuators that are responsible for powering the fins. Velox can glide smoothly through water in this mode.
Once it settles on dry land, the robot automatically swivels its fins at a right angle and props itself forward. This automated movement equips it to move over dry land. The manufacturers claim that the robot can smoothly negotiate sand, pebbles, snow, paving, and ice. Velox was only recently equipped with the ability to move on ice.
Applications of Velox
The versatility of Velox is, no doubt, its greatest asset. “As an underwater vehicle, the robot’s ability to instantly reverse direction and do quick turns make it ideal for tasks such as coral reef inspection or dragon fish hunting where a craft must rapidly maneuver to look around and between objects.” The design was originally a proof of concept but the manufacturing company already has plans to commercialize the invention. Some of the other potential applications of Velox as explained by the manufacturer include:
- As an ice-rescue robot for towing a rope and life buoy to someone who has fallen through ice
- As a personal propulsion device for professional and recreational applications
- As a stand-alone thruster to replace propellers on craft in environmentally-sensitive waters such as mangroves, seagrass beds, and coral reefs as well as debris-filled waters
- For transporting ammunition or medical supplies to troops on amphibious missions
As mentioned earlier, Velox was originally designed as a proof of concept. There is little information about the pricing on the Velox official website. You can get in touch with the manufacturing company via the website for more details.