In DepthBIOMECHANICS

Bendy bugs inspire roboticists

Science  12 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6274, pp. 647
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6274.647

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Via your Institution

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Summary

Insects, whether they creep or fly, live in a world of hard knocks. Who has not stepped on a cockroach, then raised her shoe to watch the creature get up and scoot under a door? Bees and wasps, for their part, face a never-ending obstacle course of leaves, stems, and petals—bumblebees crash their wings into obstacles as often as once a second. Now, researchers are learning how these creatures bend but don't break. The results do more than explain why cockroaches are so hard to kill. By mimicking the combination of rigid and flexible parts that gives insect exoskeletons and wings their resilience, biomechanicists are making robots tougher. It's quite the contrast from the way engineers have designed most of their machines, but may lead to better robots for search and rescue.