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Biotech Robotics Science

"Cyber-Roach" Forces Rethink On Animal Movement 41

Posted by Soulskill
from the living-under-your-cyber-fridge dept.
Lanxon writes "A team of researchers at the Royal Veterinary College in London has built a 'cyber-cockroach' (a cockroach wearing an accelerometer in a tiny backpack) to try and better understand the movements of many-legged animals. They found that unlike bipedal creatures, animals with more than two legs don't adjust their movements when walking over a softer surface." The academic paper is available from the Journal of Experimental Biology. This research will be helpful in finding better ways for multi-legged robots to navigate difficult terrain.
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"Cyber-Roach" Forces Rethink On Animal Movement

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  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Friday May 14, 2010 @07:00PM (#32214490)
    Not "more than two legs", animals with 6 legs don't need to adjust their movements because if they only move 3 legs at a time, they are always inherently stable. Animals with 2 legs, and to a lesser extent animals with 3, 4, or 5 legs (depending on gait), do need to adjust their movement for different terrains to avoid falling over. Yes, if you are going to build a "walking" robot for harsh terrain, 6 legs appears to me to be the way to go. One legged robots [mit.edu] -- not so much.
  • by EdZ (755139) on Friday May 14, 2010 @07:14PM (#32214654)
    Actually, cockroaches can get over some crazy obstacles with little to no change in gait, That big honking joint in the middle? With just that, they can clime obstacles as tall as they are. Yes, they can switch to a wave gait for really big stuff, but most of the time they simply move their muscles in exactly the same way, and rely on the dynamics of their leg joints to conform them to the surface passively. It's an extraordinarily elegant and efficient way of moving. There's a lot of work in the field of passive-dynamic robotics aimed at modelling this sort of movement, allowing robots to move using legs with far less energy than they do at the moment, by designing them so a lot of the work in moving the limbs is done massively.
    Lookup some of Dr. Roger Quinn's work. I can't find the videos he showed at a recent lecture in the UK, but they demonstrated how the much-maligned Whegs are really a lot cleverer than they look.

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