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Rescue Machine Based on Furry Mole!

They may look like little cute furry critters, but when it comes to digging, nothing digs like the European Mole.

The mole (Talpa europaea) grows up to 15cm and usually weighs around 100gms! It's coat is black, soft and velvety to touch. It has enormous feet to shift the dirt, a cute pink nose to sniff out food and it's eye sight is....well, it's actually practically blind!

It lives most of its life underground digging tunnels, so being able to see isn't that important. It sniffs out it's food which is mostly grubs and worms and insects.

Human beings are pretty clever, but not as clever as nature. So it was obvious that when you are designing a machine that can dig, you are best to look at a mole because one little mole can easily dig a tunnel 20m long in one day! They 'move' around 6kg of dirt in just 20 minutes!

Researchers have been trying to invent robots that can get to survivors of mine disasters or earthquakes. Robin Scott and Robert Richardson at the University of Manchester in England looked at the lovely furry mole and studied what made it such a good digger of dirt.

Their robot has a 'four part mechanism' which can clear dirt, bricks and even furniture away. The action is a bit like doing the breast stroke and is similar to how a mole moves through dirt.

To see the robot in action, click this picture:

Information From:
Mechanical mole could seek out disaster survivors; K. Kleiner, New Scientist, 17.8. (a lovely website)

Mole, from:, photo David Cole
Other mole: @Gary Bradley