Photo of Centipede-bot wins honorable mention from Science

Graduate student Katie Hoffman's 12-legged, segmented robot honored in Visualization Challenge 2010

SEAS graduate student Katie Hoffman and faculty member Robert Wood developed a photo-friendly centipede millibot that can literally walk right off the page.

February 17, 2011 - A stunning photograph of a centipede-inspired robot (called a centipede millibot) developed by Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) graduate student Katie Hoffman and faculty member Robert Wood was chosen as an Honorable Mention (tie) by Science and the National Science Foundation in the Photography category in the2010 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge.

On their selection, the editors wrote:

Imitating insects is all the rage in robotics right now. Graduate student Katie Hoffman based this 12-legged, segmented robot on the body morphology of a centipede. The top view shows the actuators that control each leg, the reflection shows the flexible connections between the segments, and the penny gives a sense of the robot's size. Hoffman says most robots that size mimic cockroaches, which have only six legs and much more rigid bodies. By modeling a centipede, she hopes to study howflexibility and body undulations enhance locomotion.

Wood, an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at SEAS and a Core Member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, oversees one of the world's leading labs on microrobotics. The centipede millibot is part of the lab's efforts in advancing ambulatory microrobots.

Hoffman explained that the photo was not edited in any way, but came straight from the camera. Each of the legs is etched with the words "Harvard Microrobotics Lab" in 150-micron wide text.

Top honors in the annual competition went to Seth Darling of Argonne National Laboratory and Steven Sibener of the University of Chicago for"Rough Waters," an atomic-force microscopedepiction of millions of molecules arranging themselves on a gold surface. A second Honorable mention went to Robert Rock Belliveau for" TRICHOMES (Hairs) on the Seed of the Common Tomato."

A striking photograph created by a team of researchers affiliated with the lab of Joanna Aizenberg at SEAS won first prize in the photography category of the 2009 challenge.

The entry from Sung Hoon Kang and colleagues was entitled, Save Our Earth, Let's Go Green, and showed tiny plastic "fingers", each with a diameter 1/500th of a human hair, cradling a tiny green sphere, bringing to mind cooperative efforts across the world to promote the sustainability of the planet.

Centipede Millirobot

Topics: Robotics, Electrical Engineering, Bioengineering

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Robert J. Wood

Harry Lewis and Marlyn McGrath Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences