One of the problems of using robots on the roads is that it is impossible to predict the topography of the surface on which they will have to move. The best option yet are walking mechanisms, but the issue for them, only on a smaller scale. First and foremost, we are talking about the feet of the robot which are in contact with the relief – scientists from the University of California in San Diego has offered to produce their… of coffee.

Have dry coffee grounds have this effect as “granular coupling”, when the pressure of the ground coffee particles are pressed together. That creates problems when cooking Barista coffee, can help in robotics. If you make a support leg of the robot in the form of a flexible latex spheres filled with coffee grounds, then the pressure on the surface, it will deform and take the shape of an almost perfect tread.

This design can be passive, when the robot shakes up the legs to loosen and prepare the mixture, or active, when for best results use a vacuum pump. Active system will be more effective on the most uneven surfaces, the passive is better suited for flat slopes. When the tests on the coating of the pebbles new robotic legs provided the acceleration by 40% because adaptable feet did not fall through between the rocks and get stuck there.

Immersion depth in loose material like wood chips or sawdust, when you use adaptable elevation of the feet is reduced by 62 %. But the effort failed to pull the legs of the robot falls to 98 %. That is, in comparison with primitive hard kicking mechanisms with coffee filler practically does not get stuck in the loose soil. After initial success, the scientists intend to add sensors to the surface and learn how to change the elevation of the foot before it touches the ground, optimizing each step.

Source — the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering