What is it about lizards and tech? First, they're kicking butt in video games and now, they're influencing robot design.
Leaping lizards and geckos are the inspiration behind a new robot out of the University of California at Berkeley that could lead to more agile search-and-rescue droids in disaster situations.
Led by Robert Full, a UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology, a group of graduate and undergraduate biology and engineering students found that by adding a "tail" to a remote control car and adjusting the tail's angle, they could correct and stabilize the car's position as it was flying through the air.
The team discovered this by watching how red-headed African Agama lizards used their tails to maneuver themselves while leaping.
In their experiment, the students coaxed the lizards to jump off a ramp onto another platform. However, they deliberately mixed up the surface of the ramp to include slicker turf, resulting in the lizards losing their footing as they launched themselves off the ramp. During those times, the Agama lizards were able to regain their balance and land safely on the other side by swinging their tail upward. … Read more