Robot Rats Could Be Next

Rats are the next model for robots.  Imagine a very large mechanical rodent scurrying around the room and you get the idea.  Not for the faint of heart if you hate rats.  Probably won't be the design for the next generation of robotic vacuum cleaners, but the behavior may be just what is needed to bring some intelligence to robots.  The intelligence of a rat. 

Researchers have gone to nature yet again to find inspiration for robot development.  On robotNext there have been posts on snake bots, insect bots, beaver-tailed bots, and dinosaur bots.   Robots have been modeled on spiders, water striders, and even humans.  Why not rats?

Actually, why rats?  Rats have brain structures similar to humans, so rats make sense as a model.  Roboticists in this article from believe that robots modeled on rats may be able to accomplish some basic, but useful behaviors, such as navigating around objects or searching for food.  If robots could learn to do this, they would become more than a programmed machine to do repetitive tasks.

Check out the article at the links below.


The future of robots is rat-shaped

Agnes Guillot dreams of one day seeing a giant 50-centimetre (20-inch) -long white rat called Psikharpax scuttling fearlessly around her lab.

… the smarts to figure out dangers and opportunities, a robot is helpless without human intervention. "The autonomy of robots today is similar to that of an insect," snorts Guillot, a researcher at France's Institute for Intelligent Systems and …

The future of robots is rat-shaped
Sun, 07 Jun 2009 15:10:50 GMT

Robots That Can Walk on Water May Be Next

Once again nature provides a model for the next thing in robot development.  This time robots may do the miraculous and walk on water.  The technology is based on the surface structure of water strider’s legs.  By repelling water, the legs enable the insects to walk across the surface of water.  This property is called super-hydrophobia. 

For robots to achieve this feat, it seems to me that they would have to have some other properties.  Certainly, they would have to be very light weight.  Still, this is a fascinating idea.  Read the whole story at the link below.

Water Droplet on Super-Hydrophobic Surface: Xiao Cheng Zeng
Popular Science

Robots Borrow Hydro-Repelling Tech from Insect Legs to Walk on Water
Popular Science, NY
By Val Wang Posted 06.02.2009 at 11:19 am 0 Comments A robot that can walk on water: such a miracle is one step closer to reality, thanks to some new research that learns from the work nature has done with water striders. Walking on water may seem like

Robots Borrow Hydro-Repelling Tech from Insect Legs to Walk on Water – Popular Science
Tue, 02 Jun 2009 15:35:01 GMT

Megasaurus is More Dragon Than Dinosaur

Irresistible is right.  Something about Megasuarus captured my attention.  This is not a new robot and maybe not the next thing in robots, but it is very large and very destructive, and it is new to RobotNext.  From the video I saw of this monster,  it can pick up a car in its giant claws and then incinerate the insides of the vehicle.  Other than the entertainment value of this beast, I saw it as yet another example of robots imitating nature.  Well, sort of.  In this case, a robot has supposedly been designed on the idea of a dinosaur.  To me this robot seems more like a mythical creature, namely a dragon, than a dinosaur.  However, in many ways, it does resemble a certain Japanese science fiction creature from the movies.  

Where as some robot builders are constructing robots to see how nature evolves, this robot is definately a case of robots devolving.  See this story below for the latest exploits of this robotic creature from the junkyard.

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Megasaurus was irresistible. Children, filled with wonder and awe, walked up to the robot-dinosaur hybrid. They studied it, asked questions and grinned wide. Adults balanced wide-eyed queries with their own inspection of the beast …

Megasaurus Brings Fire And Mayhem To Bristol Dragway –
Mon, 01 Jun 2009 07:03:00 GMT

Robots Used to Study Evolution

Robots that imitate cockroaches or lizards.  These have been developed in a university laboratory that is researching evolution.  In previous posts here at RobotNext, I have detailed stories on robots that imitate nature.  Here is just one more example of what is next in robots.  Check out the story at the link below.

Long is among a small group of researchers worldwide studying biology and evolution with the help of robots that can do things like shimmy through water or slither up shores. Long's robots, for instance, test theories on the development
TH Online RSS Feed –

TH – National/World Article
(author unknown)
Sat, 30 May 2009 20:04:17 GMT

Insect-like Robot

Insectoid Robot

Photo Credit:  Robot Watch

Nature strikes again in the form of a robot that has insects to thank for its shape and form.  Although it is billed in this post from DVICE as insectoid, it has four legs, not six, but it does have two arms, so that does make a total of six appendages.  Read the article below and then see the photos on the Robot Watch website.  Links are below.

Via DVICE and Impress Watch

Japanese construction firm unleashes insectoid robot crane on humanity
If you think the towering fictional robot monstrosities of Terminator 4 are chilling, you probably won't be happy to see the very real ROBOTOPS at your local construction site. The four-legged, two-armed robot is actually a kind of automated mobile

Japanese construction firm unleashes insectoid robot crane on humanity – DVICE
Thu, 28 May 2009 11:00:42 GMT

Flying Insect-sized Robots Get Eyes

So I guess this fits with the theme of recent posts on RobotNext.  Only this one combines the themes of military robots and nature inspired machines.  This article on spying roboflies is about tiny cameras that can be integrated with flying robots that are no larger than an insect.  Of course, there are many other possible applications for this miniature camera.  One of the uses could be for robotic spacecraft where size and weight are critical.  Another area where these devices could make an impact is in small observatories for use in border security.  It is thought that the robots or machines with these cameras would be cheap enough to be dropped by aircraft over a large area.  See the complete article by clicking on the title below.

It is light enough to be carried by these tiny surveillance drones and also uses very little power.

Spying roboflies to get minicam eyes
Fri, 22 May 2009 20:59:44 GMT

Beaver-tailed robot mimics tree-climbing insects


Photo Credit: University of Pennsylvania and Boston Dynamics

Once again nature provides the model for a robot.  I have written several posts on this topic in RobotNext.  See Nature Inspired Robots and Snakebots in a Building! just to name two. 

This machine is a cross between a beaver and a cockroach, and it climbs like a koala.  It is called the RiSE V3.  See the excerpt below from the post at CNET News by Mark Rutherford.

Here's another offering from Boston Dynamics' zoomorphic line: the RiSE V3, a multi-legged, beaver-tailed robot that can skitter along the ground, shimmy up a pole, and then quietly cling there and stare at you.

The research by Haynes et al was published by the University of Pennsylvania and Boston Dynamics in a paper (PDF) titled Rapid Pole Climbing with a Quadrupedal Robot.  Rutherford summarizes the research nicely as follows:

The development team's aim was to reproduce movements they had observed in climbing insects. This is something else that sets this wall climber apart. Most other climbing robots have generally relied on "surface-specific attachment mechanisms," i.e. magnets and suction devices.

Beaver-tailed robot mimics tree-climbing insects
Wed, 20 May 2009 22:32:00 GMT

Nature Inspired Robots

This has been a recurring theme of post here on RobotNext.  See Snakebots in a Building  as an example of robot design from nature.  Also, take a look at a more recent post that deals with a futuristic application from the world of spiders.

Robotics researchers are increasingly turning to nature for inspiration. Watch a robotic salamander that moves from water to land, a water strider robot, mechanical cockroaches, and some cool self-configuring robots.
TFOT – The Future Of Things –

Nature Inspired Robots
Sarah Gingichashvili
Sat, 16 May 2009 22:53:53 GMT