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Nature-Inspired Robots Swim, Crawl and Scuttle Like Animals

from the Christian Science Monitor

When it comes to designing a new robot, some scientists are finding a visit to the zoo more helpful than hours spent at the drawing board. Rather than invent new ways for a robot to navigate a forest or crowded city street, they are copying how animals already do it.

If the goal is to make robots capable of surviving any environment, then nature almost always provides a template, says Joseph Ayers, a professor of biology at Northeastern University in Boston. "Animals have evolved to operate in every environment," he says.

The movement is part of an emerging field known as biomimetics, which takes designs from the natural world and applies them to everything from architecture to textiles.

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VIDEO: The Promise and Peril of Drones

CummingsDrones

The automation of tasks at work and at home is just around the corner, including driving cars, piloting planes, delivering packages, and transporting weapons. Unmanned aerial vehicles are rapidly evolving to meet both society’s and the military’s needs in automation and better efficiency.
During her time as one of the first female fighter pilots in the US Navy, Dr. Missy Cummings observed that computers could take off and land a plane more precisely than humans. Because of this breakthrough and her fascination with this growing technology, she began human–drone interaction research.

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