Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Falling lizards use tail for mid-air twist, inspiring lizard-like 'RightingBot'

Date:
July 1, 2012
Source:
Society for Experimental Biology
Summary:
Lizards, just like cats, have a knack for turning right side up and landing on their feet when they fall. But how do they do it? Unlike cats, which twist and bend their torsos to turn upright, lizards swing their large tails one way to rotate their body the other, according to new research. A lizard-inspired robot, called "RightingBot," replicates the feat.

Despite its simple design, RightingBot rights itself in mid-air with a swing of its tail just like the lizards that inspired it.
Credit: Tom Libby

Lizards, just like cats, have a knack for turning right side up and landing on their feet when they fall. But how do they do it? Unlike cats, which twist and bend their torsos to turn upright, lizards swing their large tails one way to rotate their body the other, according to a recent study that will be presented at the Society for Experimental Biology meeting on 29th June in Salzburg, Austria. A lizard-inspired robot, called 'RightingBot', replicates the feat.

This work, carried out by Ardian Jusufi, Robert Full and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, explains how large-tailed animals can turn themselves right side up while falling through the air. It could also help engineers to design air- or land-based robots with better stability.

"It is not immediately obvious which mechanism an animal will use to accomplish aerial righting and recover from falling in an upside-down posture. Depending on body size, morphology and mass distribution there are multiple strategies for animals to execute this behavior," said Ardian Jusufi, lead author of the study.

Lizards in their natural environment encounter various situations where they could fall. For instance, they could fall while fighting over territory, seeking food, or even mating. To avoid injuries, they must have a way to turn themselves during a fall to land safely on their feet.

For over a century, people have been studying if and how cats and other mammals right themselves when they fall. Other animals like lizards, which have different body plans and probably use different strategies, have been largely unexplored.

The researchers used high-speed videography to dissect the motion of two common lizards -- the flat-tailed house gecko and green anole -- as they fall, starting upside down. Watching as the lizards righted themselves in mid-air before alighting on extended legs, the researchers discovered that both lizards swing their tails in one direction, causing their bodies to turn in the other.

The team also compared the righting movement of the two lizards, which have similar body sizes but different tail lengths and inertial properties. The gecko, with its shorter tail, has to swing its tail further to the side to right itself, making a larger angle relative to its body. By contrast, relatively smaller movements of the anole tail, which is twice as long, are enough to reorient its body.

"A comparative approach provides useful insights in the study of aerial righting responses and could be beneficial to the design of robots that navigate complex environments," said Ardian Jusufi.

For the study, Jusufi and his colleagues developed a three-dimensional mathematical model to test their understanding of the lizards' righting movement.

To further test the mathematical model's predictions the team then built a simple robot. 'RightingBot' consists of just two parts: a body joined to a tail. Despite its simple design, RightingBot rights itself in mid-air with a swing of its tail just like the lizards that inspired it, showing how useful a tail can be for that purpose.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Experimental Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for Experimental Biology. "Falling lizards use tail for mid-air twist, inspiring lizard-like 'RightingBot'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120701191641.htm>.
Society for Experimental Biology. (2012, July 1). Falling lizards use tail for mid-air twist, inspiring lizard-like 'RightingBot'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120701191641.htm
Society for Experimental Biology. "Falling lizards use tail for mid-air twist, inspiring lizard-like 'RightingBot'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120701191641.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. Video provided by Newsy
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