Georgia Tech Researchers Studying Sandfish Lizards for Search and Rescue Robot Ideas

Posted on March 22, 2012

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have been studying sandfish lizards for the past three years. The sandfish lizard can dig its way into the sand and disappear in under a second. The Georgia Tech researchers have used x-rays to track the sandfish under the sand. In 2009, the researchers reported that sandfish lizards "place their limbs against their sides and create a wave motion with their bodies to propel themselves through granular media." They also discovered that once beneath the surface, the lizards no longer use their limbs and create a wave motion with their bodies like snakes to swim through sand.

The sandfish's ultrafast slithering moves are inspiring new robot designs. With support from the National Science Foundation, physicist Daniel Goldman and his team have developed a sandfish robot to mimic sandfish locomotion so they can study the way it moves in more precise detail. The robot was made with seven connected segments and is powered by servo motors. It was then packed in a latex sock and wrapped in a spandex swimsuit.

The research could someday lead to robots that could help search and rescue crews. Take a look: