Despite what our science fiction-fueled imaginations love to be
entertained with, there is more to the field of modern robotics than colossal combat machines or bionic baristas.
Some projects may seem mundane by comparison, yet the results are no
less impressive, especially the ones that enlighten through the process.
Although it took a few trial and error attempts, scientists have
finally created an insect-inspired robot that can jump off of water's
Portable test kits represent an advance in disease diagnosis, as their
ready availability increases chances of earlier detection and treatment.
This type of technology is constantly evolving, and sometimes
inspiration can come from surprising sources. Such is the case with
research carried out by a Swiss team, which has borrowed from the
mechanics behind the firefly's glow to develop a sensitive molecule
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.