The road to developing dexterous robots is paved with insect studies. In this case, it’s a stick insect, Carausius morosus to be precise.
Scientists at Bielfeld University in Germany have been researching exactly how these stick insects walk (pdf) so that they might one day apply this knowledge to biomedical robots. Apparently these particular walking insects are easy to study in the lab because they don’t walk to fast and they can’t fly away.
The scientists went all Hollywood on their walking sticks by using motion-capture technology. They put detectors on the insets legs and torso and made them walk across super sensitive plates that could measure the force of each step. Of particular interest was the how the stick insect senses its environment with its front legs and communicated that information to its hip and back legs so they can react accordingly. This type of information synthesis will be vital for autonomous robots navigating unfamiliar terrain (on any/all scales, on Earth or another planet).
Watch this great video on this research made by New York Times:
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Keep on geeking!
@Summer_Ash, In-house Astrophysicist