Robots Inspired by Biology

ast year, the magazine's Abigail Tucker wrote about the fascinating—and sometimes creepy—world of robot babies. But that was only one tiny part of the robot universe. In the video above, Dennis Hong, director of the Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) at Virginia Tech, discusses his lab's work on robot locomotion. These robots are often inspired by biological locomotion, though they may not look like anything in the biological world. There are three-legged robots and robots that climb, one that moves like an amoeba and another that moves like a snake. Hong's lab has spent a lot of time perfecting a small humanoid robot that they enter into robot soccer competitions.

In the video, Hong also shares his five secrets for success:

  1. Spark of inspiration
  2. Nobody criticizes anybody's ideas
  3. Education is important
  4. Work hard
  5. Don't forget to have fun

As much as I appreciate number 5, I'm guessing that number 1 is probably the most important. Most of us forget our 4 a.m. moments of inspiration, if we have them at all; Hong manages to write them down and translate them into amazing creations.

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