Posted in | Biomimetic Robotics

Ben-Gurion University Researchers Develop Single Actuator Wave-like Robot

Single Actuator Wave-like robot (Credit: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)

Dr. David Zarrouk, a senior lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), has developed the first Single Actuator Wave-like Robot (SAW) capable of producing a pure wave motion with the help of a single motor.

The SAW robot is a potential candidate for medical applications, and search, rescue, maintenance, and security scenarios.

Dr. Zarrouk and two Masters students, Ilanit Waksman and Nir Dagani, investigate the movement of this innovative robot. Waksman studies swimming in viscous liquids and Dagani explores movements on slippery and flexible surfaces in an effort to simulate the locomotion of robots in the human body.

Taking inspiration from the natural movement of snakes, the researchers have designed the wave-like robot. However, the wave movement of this unique robot is perpendicular, enabling the robot to crawl across various difficult surfaces such as gravel, grass, and sand.

The robot is also capable of climbing over obstacles or swimming. The wheels in the robot are for steering. The top speed of the robot is 57 cm/s, which is five times faster than any similar robot.

Video Credit: zarrouk lab/

SAW is also capable of climbing through tunnels at a speed of 8 cm/s, touching both sides. In addition, a waterproof variant is capable of swimming at a rate of 6 cm/s.

Despite the fact that researchers all over the world have been trying to create a wave movement for 90 years, we succeeded in finding a simple and unique solution that enables the robot to be built in different sizes for different purposes. For example, it can be scaled up for search and rescue and maintenance or miniaturized to a diameter of one cm or less to travel within the human body for medical purposes, such as imaging biopsies of the digestive system.

Dr. David Zarrouk, Senior Lecturer, BGU

He highlights that the new design of the robot allows it to be strong, easily producible, reliable, and energy efficient that facilitates long travel distances.

Moreover, Dr. Zarrouk adds, “Throughout the testing we barely needed to perform any maintenance. The robot is ready to go and I believe that it has a very good chance of traveling through the intestine for imaging and biopsy purposes; the robot also has security potential primarily for use in infiltrating problematic and complex areas, such as tunnels, destroyed buildings, pipes and the like.”

Dr. Zarrouk is a member of the ABC Robotics Initiative supported by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. The breakthrough was recently reported in the Bioinspiration & Biomimetics journal. The achievement was also published in IEEE SPECTRUM.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback