Bug-Sized Robotics is DARPA’s Latest Endeavor


DARPA Headquarters in Virginia, USA. / Photo by: wtopstaff via Wikimedia Commons


Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a US government agency responsible for developing technologies for military use, has recently launched a program called Short-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms or SHRIMP to test the agility, speed, and strength of tiny robots. With this, they are opening a competition for engineers to submit their designs of small-scale robots.

In its official site, DARPA announced that the SHRIMP program seeks to find robots that will be used for disaster recovery, especially in high-risk environments. It said that in a natural disaster scenario, having the ability to enter the unstable areas would be “invaluable” to save lives and detect hazards among the wreckage.

DARPA’s program manager in the Microsystems Technology Office Dr. Ronald Polcawich said, “Robots have the potential to provide much-needed aid and support,” whether that would be in a hazardous environment, a rescue mission, or in a natural disaster scenario. He continued that shrinking down the robotic systems to create smaller robots would need a significant advancement in the technology. That is why they have launched the SHRIMP program so that researchers can work towards developing mechanisms and actuator materials that prioritize efficiency, force generation, and strength-to-weight ratio.

The program will reportedly test new materials and ways to power the small robots so that it will improve the performance of the robots without compromising their weight or size. As published in magazine Popular Mechanics, the competition will likewise test how far and high the robot can jump, how far it can throw some objects, and how much load it can lift.