While the developments robotic industry are pretty incredible, there is one thing that most robots suck at: being agile. Fortunately, a team of biology and engineering undergraduates and graduates at the University of California Berkeley made an interesting discovery in lizards, which can be applied to robotics.
Researchers noticed that when lizards leap, stumble or fall, they always manage to land perfectly. This is due the they way in which lizards use their tails to perfect the landing--they swing their tails upwards, which prevents them landing head first. Enter Tailbot.
The team developed the robot in the hope that their amphibian discovery might be able to make rescue robots more agile when trying to save humans. At first, Tailbot was a robotic car with a long tail attached. However, the team quickly found that a tail alone wouldn't stop the car from toppling when it landed. Now, Tailbot comes equipped with a gyroscope to sense body position. This means when Tailbot is dropped from as little as a foot, it was able to right itself before landing.
The research is being developed further to see if a tail controls pitch, roll and yaw while running, but in the future engineers may adopt these discoveries to help the overall stability of all robots, particularly any used in warfare and rescue missions.
Now, doesn't it make you jealous that you don't have a proper tail?
[via UC Berkeley]
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