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Cockroaches inspiration behind future robots

Ask anyone who has ever tried to squash a skittering cockroach - they’re masters of quick and precise movement. And scientists are now trying to incorporate this feature in robots of the future.

Prof. Amir Ayali, zoologist at Tel Aviv University in Israel, says the study of cockroaches has already inspired advanced robotics.

Robots have long been based on these six-legged houseguests, whose nervous system is relatively straightforward and easy to study, according to a Tel Aviv statement.

He and his fellow researchers are delving deeper into the neurological functioning of the cockroach.

This, he says, will give engineers the information they need to design robots with a more compact build and greater efficiency in terms of energy, time, robustness and rigidity. Such superior robotics can be even used to explore new terrain in outer space.

Prof. Ayali says it’s clear why robotics have been inspired by these insects. A cockroach is supported by at least three legs at all times during movement, which provides great stability.

“Not only do cockroaches arguably exhibit one of the most stable ways to walk, called a tripod gate,” he explains, “but they move equally quickly on every kind of terrain. Their speed and stability is almost too good to be true.”

This research was recently presented at the International Neuroethology conference in Spain as well as the Israeli Neuroscience Meeting in December.


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