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Biomimicry

Robotics

Streamlined shell helps robo-roach slip past obstacles

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.Read More

Science

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

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.Read More

Robotics

Tough robots keep working even after losing limbs

While robots can be designed to be faster or stronger than animals, it's rare to meet a robot that's as resilient as an animal in the wild after it's been injured. Animals adapt to survive and researchers from France and the US are developing robots that can keep working even after receiving major damage.

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Robotics

MIT's robotic cheetah can now leap over obstacles

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.Read More

Robotics

CoCoRo underwater mini-robots school like fish and share knowledge

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.Read More

Robotics

VelociRoACH gets a job as an aircraft carrier

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.Read More

Science

Horseshoe bat-inspired sonar system could outperform current tech

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.Read More

Robotics

Octopus-arm-like tool may find use in surgery

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.Read More

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