Tufts University and Virginia Tech collaborated on an interesting study that has implications in robot locomotion ( Gut Movements in Caterpillars Have Impact on Robotic Design):
BLACKSBURG, Va., July 23, 2010 – Weird movements in the abdomens of freely crawling caterpillars are making headlines in the fields of engineering and biology, says Jake Socha, Virginia Tech assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics.
Beyond evolutionary implications, the findings are already contributing to the design and development of soft material robots.
…combined imaging showed that the caterpillar’s gut slid forward in advance of the surrounding tissues. Seem inconsequential? Actually, it is “unlike any form of legged locomotion previously reported and represents a new feature in our emerging understanding of crawling,” they reported in Current Biology.
The novelty is that the caterpillar’s center of mass moves forward while the middle ‘legs’ are anchored to the substrate. The internal gut movements are locally decoupled from visible translations of the body.
“This type of two-body mechanical system has never been seen before, and is probably unique to soft, squishy animals,” Socha explained.
Read the entire article and see video at: http://www.physorg.com/news199007129.html
Taking robotic competitions to the next level, teams of Aldebaran robots (like the one we met at the FIRST World Championship in Atlanta in April), competed in a soccer match at the Robot World Cup in Singapore.
From The Engineer:
500 teams from over 40 countries took part in Robocup 2010, in a variety of tournaments ranging from pure computer simulations up to full autonomous humanoid robot competitions.
The competition, as well as being great fun, also has a serious side promoting developments in robotics and artificial intelligence, as well as forging links between research establishments around the world. Participants included teams from, for example, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Oxford University and Osaka University.
Team Duct Tape members volunteered at LIFE Fest 2009, Learning is for Everyone’s annual home based learning conference, at Eckerd College on Saturday, talking about FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST robotics opportunities, to interested families. They took last season’s bot on walk-about in the vendor room, which everyone enjoyed, and which also netted team members some vendor goodies that they passed on to visiting children.