Biological inspiration: from many legged locomotors
Robert J. Full
Professor, Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley
Examining the remarkable diversity in nature has lead to the discovery of a general theory of terrestrial locomotion. Extraordinarily diverse morphological solutions show the same dynamics. Patterns of whole body ground reaction forces produced by the six-legged cockroach are similar to those produced by trotting eight-legged crabs, four-legged dogs and even running humans. The advantage of many legs and a sprawled posture appears to be in stability. Feedforward models self-stabilize to perturbations without the equivalent of neural control. Control algorithms appear embedded in the form of the animal itself. Amazing feet allow animals to climb using molecular forces. Fundamental principles of animal locomotion have inspired the design of novel, autonomous legged robots. Revolutionary new technologies in materials and manufacturing promises to lead to even more mobile robots in the future inspired by nature.