Robots Inspired by Nature

Robotics researchers are learning nature's tricks for adapting to the most demanding environments, a practice called biomimetics.  

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    Robot_Cockroach

    From the lowly insect to the most complex of mammals, robotics researchers are learning nature's tricks for adapting to the most demanding environments using surprisingly simple and efficient techniques, a practice called biomimetics. While the lessons learned from even lowly creatures like insects, lizards, and crustaceans have already had a powerful impact on robotic design, what lessons wait for us when we begin to master the inventions evolution learned while making us? Here, a robotic cockroach being developed by tech wizards at UC Berkeley's Department of Electrical Engineering. The idea: help locate earthquake survivors easily, cheaply, and quickly … and without jeopardizing the lives of rescuers.
    Fox News Channel
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    Robot Salamander

    European scientists have built this robot with a primitive electric nervous system that they say mimics the change in motion from swimming to walking. The robot doesn’t look much like a salamander — it's nearly a yard long and made of nine bright yellow plastic segments each containing a battery and microcontroller — but it does seem to move like one.
    AP
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    Bugbot

    U.S. military engineers are trying to design flying robots disguised as insects that could one day spy on enemies and conduct dangerous missions without risking lives. "The way we envision it is, there would be a bunch of these sent out in a swarm," said Greg Parker, who helps lead the research project at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton. "If we know there's a possibility of bad guys in a certain building, how do we find out? We think this would fill that void."
    AP
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    Stickybot

    Stickybot weighs only 300 grams, is 30 centimeters long, and has 12 servos for movement. The hands are made of a material that has thousands of micro-stalks that adhere to surfaces using the principle of Van der Waals force, which is the attractive (and sometimes repulsive) force that naturally exists between molecules. The toes can curl and uncurl and can conform to a variety of surfaces. 
    Mark Cutkosky, Stanford University
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    Lobster Robot

    At Northeastern University, DARPA funded researchers like Joseph Ayers and Jan Witting at the Marine Science Center laboratory have built an adaptive underwater robot based on the American lobster. The two claw-like appendages you see in the lobster robot photo are actually paddles used for hydrodynamic flow control that work in conjunction with the lobster robot’s abdomen to achieve a similar effect.
    Joseph Ayers and Jan Witting, Marine Science Center, Northeastern University
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    Lamprey Robot

    Northeastern's Ayers and Witting are also working on another robot for underwater usage that is a based on the lamprey. The undulatory robot is potentially a reconnaissance and rescue robot, designed to navigate tight restrictive passages with a head full of sensors.
    Joseph Ayers and Jan Witting, Marine Science Center, Northeastern University
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    Stickybot's Hands

    Stickybot weighs only 300 grams, is 30 centimeters long, and has 12 servos for movement. The hands are made of a material that has thousands of micro-stalks that adhere to surfaces using the principle of Van der Waals force, which is the attractive (and sometimes repulsive) force that naturally exists between molecules. The toes can curl and uncurl and can conform to a variety of surfaces. 
    Mark Cutkosky, Stanford University
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    Cybugs

    Mini robots could be good spies, but researchers now are experimenting with insect cyborgs or "cybugs" that could work even better. Scientists can already control the flight of real moths using implanted devices. The military and spy world no doubt would love tiny, live camera-wielding versions of Predator drones that could fly undetected into places where no human could ever go to snoop on the enemy.
    DARPA
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    Robot Bat

    North Carolina State University researchers are in the middle of building a robotic bat — ahem, micro-aerial vehicle (MAV) — that can be used for surveillance, exploration and rescue work.
    "We are trying to mimic nature as closely as possible because it is very efficient," mechanical engineering professor Dr. Stefan Seelecke said in a press release. "And, at the MAV scale, nature tells us that flapping flight — like that of the bat — is the most effective."
    Gheorghe Bunget, North Carolina State University
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    Robobees

    DARPA funded researchers Joseph Ayers and Jan Witting at the Marine Science Center laboratory are working on creating colonies of robotic bees — robobees. They hope to learn from the project how to improve the art of miniaturized robotics, especially in the areas of creating efficient low power designs and improving the algorithms used to coordinate robot swarms.
    Joseph Ayers and Jan Witting, Marine Science Center, Northeastern University
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    Cronos Robot

    Cronos, clearly a robot designed to imitate a human being, was built as a tool to investigate the relationship between visual perception, sensorimotor skills and the sensation of experience. It has 45 powered degrees of freedom to produce a head that can move in all directions and a single pan-tilt-roll camera for an eye. 
    The Robot Studio
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