Biomimetic Robots

From the ominous Klaatu of The Day the Earth Stood Still to the Terminator, we've seen robots typically portrayed on screen as stiff, humanoid machines. But it's not just Hollywood that has locked robots to the human form.

"A lot of conventional thinking pervades the field of robotics," says Morley Stone, a program manager in the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's defense sciences office. "They still look very much like they are depicted in grainy black-and-white films. You see this humanoid robot that doesn't walk very well. We still haven't improved upon that all that much."

Forget the anthropomorphs. Today, researchers are looking in the cupboards of their local diners and under rocks for biological inspiration to create a new generation of flying, crawling, and swimming automatons known as biomimetic robots. Intrigued by how other species have adapted to a whole world of environmental niches, researchers are working to understand and reverse-engineer the adaptive traits of creatures, including those--like the seemingly indestructible cockroach--we might much rather step on than study.

Computer Magazine - Biomimetic Robots

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