DASH: Clever Construction And Resilience In Robotics


Behold the Dynamic Autonomous Sprawled Hexapod (DASH). The video above was presented at the 2009 International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. In it we see the toils of a team from UC Berkeley’s Biomimetic Millisystems Lab. They’ve developed a robot propulsion system that mimics some of the best aspects of cockroaches and other insect bodies: speed, economy of motion, ability to survive large falls without damage, and the capability to traverse obstacles. Let’s take a look at how they put this together after the break.

We see a hexapod (six-legged) robot manufactured using cardboard and a polymer sheet. First, the general features for each part are laser cut from a sheet of cardboard (non-corrugated) in a mirrored pattern. A polymer sheet is then glued to one side of the pattern, the other side is folded over and glued to the top of the polymer. The whole thing takes a trip through a laminator and then heads back to the laser cutter to finish cutting out the pieces. If you’ve got these tools, this makes for a very fast build process. They claim the robot can be assembled in one hour.

With this particular design, the entire body of the bot provides propulsion. There are two different frames which rotate in relation to each other, each moving three of the legs in a rowing pattern. Directional propulsion is provided by flexing the entire frame diagonally using muscle wire. Because of the resilience of this building material, the ability of the frame to flex and return to shape also provides protection from falls. We see the device thrown off of a building and continue on without any apparent damage.

Make sure you take a look at the folded robot prototyping information the Berkeley team has previously posted on their website. They dip a bit more into the details of producing the laminated cardboard composite for the bodies. The work in the video is a big leap forward from their prototypes and leaves us wondering what will come next?

[via IEEE Spectrum]

8 thoughts on “DASH: Clever Construction And Resilience In Robotics

  1. wow, you re-invented the wheel. The legs are still spinning and forming a “wheel” but with alot less contact.

    plus, what possible use could it be. Any kind of real electronics/senors you install will increase the weigh making it less likely to survive high falls or travel fast.

  2. -NotoriousAlpha

    The frame I suspect can be made as large as possible. As long as the density is kept in check.


    With the advent of composites and miniaturization I’m pretty sure the concept can be applied elsewhere.

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