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Design of Future Robots is Inspired by Cockroach

Question asked by kunal in #Robotics on Mar 31, 2011
kunal · Mar 31, 2011
Rank D1 - MASTER
Has anyone of you ever imagined in your wildest dreams that a cockroach could serve as an inspiration for someone! I can bet that four out of five people will answer the question with a no. But believe it or not, it is a fact that these arthropods are studied by scientists to design advanced complex robotic systems. If you are wondering what’s so special about these creepy six legged creatures, then you should try to remember a situation when you tried to squash one of them. At that time you must have noticed that these insects are very quick with very little response time and accurate movements which they use to dodge us. These are the basic attributes that make the cockroaches so special. Till now, crawling robots were based on only the external characteristics of roaches and merely imitated their movements. But the researchers believe that a lot can be learnt by studying its internal mechanics.

[​IMG]Prof. Amir Tayali of Tel Aviv University in Israel who works in the Zoology department is of the opinion that the skittering cockroach is an example of a good control system with great speed as well as effective balance. Dr. Tayali is currently working with a team of fellow scientists on the finer aspects of neurological behavior of the insects. His study aims to provide the engineers with sufficient data for designing futuristic robots which will be more efficient, stronger, rugged, fast, and compact and with a faster response. Their research work was recently presented at the International Neuroethology Conference in Spain as well as the Israeli Neuroscience Meeting conducted in December last year.

The two main features of a cockroach that need to be imbibed in robot architecture are quickness and stability. These unsavory creatures demonstrate one of the most balanced ways of walking and this technique is called a “tripod gate”. It is considered highly stable because the cockroach is supported by at least three appendages at all times during its motion. However this type of motion doesn’t create any hinderance in terms of speed and these insects can cover any type of terrain with equal ease and velocity.

In his laboratory, Dr. Tayali is carrying on a number of tests to unravel the mysteries behind the neurological responses of this arthropod. His team is currently trying to understand and analyse how the feedback from one leg acts as a trigger for synchronous co ordination of the remaining legs. They then share their analysis and information with the researchers in the Princeton University who are working in close collaboration with Dr.Tayali. The job of these scientists is construction of robotic models and generating simulated results with the help of collected information.

Insects use the information from the surrounding environment to take decisions regarding their movements. Various sensory organs help them understand the terrain nature based on which they decide the future course of action. So the thing of utmost importance for the robotic engineers is to understand how the information from the sensors is transferred to the insect’s legs. If they are able to answer, they could definitely create an army of robotic cockroaches or locusts or even robotic caterpillars. It sounds pretty awesome, but a bit creepy when you try to imagine it.

Image Credits: CoolestGadgets Posted in: #Robotics

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