A start-up company, Barobo associated with the University of California Davis, has been awarded a research grant for small business innovations and would use this to commercialize the iMobot, a modular robot, by the end of the year.
The iMobot allows researchers to study fields such as biomimetics, artificial intelligence, robot collaborations without building the necessary hardware. It could drive on its wheels, raise one end of its body, and crawl like an inchworm. The robot was invented by Professor Harry Chengchnolgy and Graham Ryland and they state that the technology would be of great use in industrial applications for speedily making prototypes of the complex robotics, and ultimately it may lead to the development of search and rescue robots in challenging terrains.
Ryland revealed that they had plans of building a robot, which was modular and could be easily set up. They had also wanted the robot to be useful and mobile to escalate the industry and university research in robotics.
An iMobot module includes four controlled degrees of freedom, two wheels on each end and two joints in the center section. The individual modules could be united to form larger robots, which could perform tasks such as a snake like robot, which would crawl into small spaces. Cheng disclosed that this iMobot could be utilized as a test bed tool for engineers who study control systems for either individual or groups of robots. According to him, iMobots could operate as subunits, which are capable of functioning by themselves or have been configured to do a specific job.