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 the 2010 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge.

Of 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 how flexibility 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.

See the centipede millibot in motion.