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Roboter in Wombat-Größe untersucht Wombat-Höhlen

Nachdem sich Scott Carver von der University of Tasmania sich schon dadurch ausgezeichnet hat, zu erforschen, warum Wombats würfelförmig kacken, hat er nun mit dem Wom-Bot (Hihi) einen Roboter in der Größe eines Wombats entwickelt, um mit diesem näher zu erfahren, wie es in Wombat-Höhlen so aussieht. Obwohl der Wom-Bot in schon 10 Höhlen unterwegs war, hat er bisher nur einen seiner natürlichen Artgenossen angetroffen.

Wombats are primarily nocturnal animals, spending the daylight hours sleeping in burrows that they dig in the ground. They change burrows every four to 10 days, often simply moving into a different burrow that was previously dug and occupied by another wombat. It is believed that the parasitic Sarcoptes scabiei mites, which cause sarcoptic mange, may be transferred between wombats when they swap burrows in this fashion.

Researchers from Australia’s La Trobe University and University of Tasmania wanted to see how likely this was to be the case, so they developed the new robot. Known as the WomBot, the battery-powered device is 30 cm long (11.8 in), weighs 2 kg (4.4 lb) and moves on tank-like treads at a top speed of 0.15 meters per second (0.5 ft/s).

It’s also equipped with temperature and humidity sensors, along with front and rear cameras and LED lights. Live video from those cameras is relayed via an attached Ethernet cable to a human operator up top. Additionally, a gripper on the front of the robot allows data-logging sensors to be placed inside burrows and subsequently retrieved.

(Direktlink, via BoingBoing)

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