Kinetic artist Reuben Margolin created an intricate robot caterpillar that can slowly climb up a pile of wood, one section at a time. The robot is built around micro-controllers that give the robot the ability to perfectly mimic how a real caterpillar moves.
Created in 2019, exactly 20 years after my first caterpillar, this one can tackle variably curved terrain. Inside the caterpillar is a micro-controller holding a file with a quarter million angles. As the motors sequentially follow these angles, the caterpillar traverses the woodpile.
The woodpile itself is not random but rather was set up to allow the robotic caterpillar to move naturally and showcase its ability to move over different landscapes with relative ease.
The woodpile is not as random as it looks, but follows a predetermined polynomial spline within certain bounds of curvature. It is made of scrap wood and took about week to make. …But the crux of the work was a gloriously fun math problem. Solving caterpillar motion over arbitrary curved surfaces is the toughest, and most rewarding, math that I’ve gotten into yet.
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via The Awesomer