Robot Animals Help Study Nature

Robots are being dressed up like animals in order to blend in with wildlife and help research their real-life counterparts in nature.  There are robotic birds, bees, and lizards.  RobotNext has many articles on robots that are modeled on nature.  This is a slightly different take in that the robots are imitating nature in order to study the animals. 


Credit:  Popular Science, Illustrations by Bradley R. Hughes

Robots That Dress Like Animals for Science
Popular Mechanics, NY
To better understand animal behavior, scientists are dressing up data-gathering robots in animal garb. By fitting in with their wild, unsuspecting friends, robot bees, turkeys and lizards are recording intimate details of habitats that were never

Robots That Dress Like Animals for Science – Popular Mechanics
Thu, 18 Jun 2009 13:45:53 GMT

Fish Robot Models Next Method of Ship Propulsion

Here is the next robot model from nature—a fish.  Here at RobotNext, there have been reports of many types of robots based on nature.  Now, robot fish may be able to demonstrate that the motions of a swimming fish could be used to move ships through the ocean.  If this could be done, it is possible that a eco-friendly propulsion method could be developed for vessels sailing the oceans.  Researchers hope to demonstrate that the swimming robot can provide a way to prevent damage to shorelines and the seabed.  Read more about this development in the article at Science Daily as reported by WWW.OLOSCIENCE.COM  at the links below.


ScienceDaily (June 11, 2009) — The team of Darmstadt researchers analyzed videos of fish’s motions and then developed a prototype fish robot that duplicated them, and are now testing it using the locomotional patterns of various species of fish in order to refine it and improve its efficiency.

Adapted from materials provided by Technische Universität Darmstadt, via AlphaGalileo.

Fish Robot As An Alternative Marine Propulsion System Of The Future
Fri, 12 Jun 2009 18:58:00 GMT

A Robot That Knows What You Are Going to do Next

RobotNext is always looking for that story that shows where the cutting edge of robotics is going next.  This is truly one of those stories.  A robot that can act on a person’s intentions would be capable of intelligent-like behavior in their relationship with a human.  In a sense, this is the ultimate model from nature for robots—a human.

The idea is to model human-human interactions in order to allow a robot to become more capable of developing a personal relationship with its human partner.  For many applications of consumer robotics, it will be necessary for the robot to be more than just a programmed machine.

Check out the article at the link below.

( — European researchers in robotics, psychology and cognitive sciences have developed a robot that can predict the intentions of its human partner. This ability to anticipate (or question) actions could make human-robot interactions …

Predictive powers: a robot that reads your intention? (w/Video) – PhysOrg
Fri, 05 Jun 2009 14:57:00 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

This Robot Shows Emotions With Body Language

So, we have robots that imitate snakes, beavers, cockroaches, and ants.  Why not humans too?  This robot can simulate human emotions with movements and poses.  See the example below and click to see the picture from the Robot Watch website.  There are other photos of this robot doing its thing on the site. 




Credit:  Robot Watch

Robots that can show emotions would be more likely to have successful interactions with humans and this is a step towards a more personal service robot.  One thing about this robot:  It does look like it got into its mother’s cosmetics drawer.  Those red lips look like my two-year old niece’s after she did her make-up for the first time.

Check out the article below at Topix and also look at the video posted on

Robots have been made capable of doing almost anything humans can do except expressing emotions.

Humanoid robot overcomes emotional hurdle
Sat, 23 May 2009 20:02:20 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