Cockroaches teach robots to overcome obstacles

It is unlikely that among us there are many fans of cockroaches. In addition to the unpleasant appearance, these insects deliver a lot of problems for people. But not a scientist. Scientists, on the contrary, I love studying cockroaches in order to learn about their unique properties. And recently, thanks to the cockroaches, the robots learned to perform a number of new tricks.

A team from Johns Hopkins University under the leadership of Chen Li in the process of studying the American cockroach (length of each of which, by the way, is about 5 cm) almost to the smallest detail studied the pattern of motion of these insects. To do this, scientists constructed an obstacle course with barriers, ditches, and elevations. All events were observed by high speed video camera for registering even the smallest movements of the legs and bodies of cockroaches.

“In tropical forests, inhabited by cockroaches, dense vegetation, lots of fallen leaves and branches. Insects constantly face these obstacles. We are trying to understand how they overcome such a difficult terrain to transfer these properties to robots”.

The study revealed that cockroaches have difficulty climbing steps above own growth, and when trying to get over a deep depression. On the run, they often crash into obstacles, but get over it quickly and by tilting the body, jump over the obstacle. This was one of the impetus to improve models of robots. The developers have equipped the robot with a kind of “tail” with which he is able to lift the front part of his body at the time of rapprochement with an obstacle, which gives the robot the ability to jump over the barrier.

Now, experts plan to conduct tests to ascertain whether mechanical cockroach to run around the ruins of the building as deftly as its live counterpart. These robots really can be useful, for example, when examining the areas affected by natural disasters, and even for intelligence on other planets.

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