Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Roaches inspire robotics: Researchers use common cockroach to fine-tune robots of the future

Date:
February 7, 2011
Source:
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Summary:
The study of cockroaches, locusts, and caterpillars is inspiring new frontiers in advanced robotics. New research delves deep into the neurological functioning of the cockroach, giving engineers the information they need to design more compact, versatile and efficient robots -- for both earthbound missions and those in outer space.

Locusts like these in Eilat, Israel, are inspiring future robotic advances.
Credit: Photo by Prof. Amir Ayali

Ask anyone who has ever tried to squash a skittering cockroach -- they're masters of quick and precise movement. Now Tel Aviv University is using their maddening locomotive skills to improve robotic technology too.

Prof. Amir Ayali of Tel Aviv University's Department of Zoology 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. But until now, walking machines based on the cockroach's movement have been influenced by outside observations and mainly imitate the insect's appearance, not its internal mechanics.

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.

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

Roach control systems as the ideal model

According to Prof. Ayali, it's clear why robotics have been inspired by these unsavory 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."

In their lab, Prof. Ayali and his fellow researchers are conducting a number of tests to uncover the mysteries of the cockroach's nervous system, studying how sensory feedback from one leg is translated to the coordination of all the other legs. Their analysis of the contribution of each leg is shared with collaborating scientists at Princeton University, who use the information to construct models and simulations of insect locomotion.

Insects, says Prof. Ayali, utilize information from the environment around them to determine how they will move. Sensors give them data about the terrain they are encountering and how they should approach it. How this information transfers to the insect's legs is central to understanding how to mimic their locomotion.

An army of robotic insects

Cockroaches are not the only insects that have captured the scientific imagination. Projects that highlight both the flight of the locust and the crawling of the soft-bodied caterpillar are also underway.

Locusts are amazing flyers, Prof. Ayali notes. Scientists are studying both their aerodynamic build and their energy metabolism for long-distance flights. Recordings of their nervous systems and simultaneous video tracking to observe the movement of their wings during flight can be expected to lead to better technology for miniscule flying robots.

As for caterpillars, engineers are trying to recreate in soft-bodied robots what they call the creatures "endless degrees of freedom of movement." "Caterpillars are not confined by a stiff structure -- they have no rigid skeletons," says Prof. Ayali. "This is exactly what makes them unique."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Friends of Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Roaches inspire robotics: Researchers use common cockroach to fine-tune robots of the future." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110207101022.htm>.
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. (2011, February 7). Roaches inspire robotics: Researchers use common cockroach to fine-tune robots of the future. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110207101022.htm
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Roaches inspire robotics: Researchers use common cockroach to fine-tune robots of the future." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110207101022.htm (accessed August 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) An animal rescue in Washington state receives an influx of orphaned squirrels, keeping workers busy as they nurse them back to health. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) In a new study, a promising experimental treatment for Ebola managed to cure a group of infected macaque monkeys. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins