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Biomimicry

— Robotics

Streamlined shell helps robo-roach slip past obstacles

By - June 30, 2015 1 Picture

Besides simply being fascinating to watch, insect-inspired robots may someday find use as scouts in search-and-rescue operations. In order for them to function in such scenarios, however, they'll have to be able to move through fields of debris. While some scientists have looked at using sensors and algorithms that let the bots scan their surroundings and then plot paths around obstacles, researchers at UC Berkley have developed a much less complex but still effective approach – they've outfitted a robotic cockroach with a streamlined shell, that lets it just push its way through.

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— Science

Pneumatic micro-tentacles can grab delicate objects as small as ants

By - June 22, 2015 1 Picture

If you had to grasp a tiny delicate object such as a blood vessel, doing so with traditional tweezers would be a very painstaking process – just a little too much pressure, and the object could be crushed. Instead, scientists from Iowa State University have developed miniature coiling tentacles for doing the job. They're even capable of holding an ant without harming it.

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— Robotics

MIT's robotic cheetah can now leap over obstacles

By - May 28, 2015 2 Pictures

The last time we heard from the researchers working on MIT's robotic cheetah project, they had untethered their machine to let it bound freely across the campus lawns. Wireless and with a new spring in its step, the robot hit speeds of 10 mph (16 km/h) and could jump 13 in (33 cm) into the air. The quadrupedal robot has now been given another upgrade in the form of a LIDAR system and special algorithms, allowing it to detect and leap over obstacles in its path.

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— Robotics

CoCoRo underwater mini-robots school like fish and share knowledge

By - May 28, 2015 1 Picture

Starting in April 2011, the European Union CoCoRo (Collective Cognitive Robots) research consortium has been developing three varieties of autonomous underwater robots that school together like fish. By doing so, the little bots can share and learn from each others' "knowledge" of their environment, acting as a collective cognitive system that's smarter than any one of its individual parts.

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— Robotics

VelociRoACH gets a job as an aircraft carrier

By - May 26, 2015 1 Picture

In nature, you're not likely to ever see a bird get a piggyback ride from a cockroach and then take off from its back. But in the world of bio-inspired robotics, such things can and do happen. Researchers from the UC Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab have successfully demonstrated a cooperative launching system that puts a lightweight ornithopter on the back of its VelociRoACH robotic carpet crawler for a short run before the H2Bird takes to the air.

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— Science

Horseshoe bat-inspired sonar system could outperform current tech

By - May 21, 2015 2 Pictures

While just about everyone knows that bats locate prey in the dark using echolocation, one thing that many people may not realize is the fact that horseshoe bats are particularly good at it. With this in mind, engineers at Virginia Tech are now developing a sonar system that emulates the system used by those bats. Once perfected, it could be a much more compact and efficient alternative to traditional manmade sonar arrays.

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— Robotics

Octopus-arm-like tool may find use in surgery

By - May 14, 2015 3 Pictures

When surgeons are trying to operate on hard-to-reach organs, they'll often have to make multiple incisions to get at the area from different angles, or use tools such as retractors to pull other tissue out of the way. A team of researchers from Italy's Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, however, is developing an alternative – a flexible octopus arm-inspired tool that can squirm its way between organs, then hold them back while simultaneously operating.

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— Science

Secrets of Bombardier beetle's superheated defensive spray revealed

By - May 12, 2015 1 Picture

The bombardier beetle has a unique defensive mechanism. It induces a chemical explosion inside its shell to create a boiling, toxic liquid which it sprays at its aggressor. Now researchers in the US have discovered how it does this, and they hope that further study of the conditions inside the beetle that allow it to produce the jet without harming itself may inform real world technologies.

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