Supported by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, University of California-Berkeley researchers have developed a small, crawling robot that mimics a cockroach's ability to squeeze through confined spaces. These spaces include rubble generated by natural disasters and explosions that first responders may not be able to access in emergencies.

The palm-sized robot is known as CRAM for "compressible robot with articulated mechanisms." The goal is to enable increased situational awareness for the dismounted soldier in complex, real-world environments by enabling increased autonomy, collaboration, and mobility of micro-aerial and ground-based autonomous systems.

The studies are providing new discoveries that will lead to innovations in how future micro-autonomous systems will operate and rapidly maneuver through complex 3D terrains. Researchers also are working on the ability of cockroach-inspired robots to self-right, which would be a valuable asset on the battlefield.