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Leaping lizards inspire robot design


Narrator:       This is Science Today. Biologists, engineers and students at the University of California, Berkeley have revealed the biomechanics of how lizards use their tails to remain agile as they leap. Integrative biologist Robert Full says they proved what was proposed decades ago by a paleontologist studying velociraptors: that the lizard's tail helps stabilize their body as it leaps from the ground to a wall. Specifically, they swing it upward.

Full:               We discovered that when they jump, they can redirect their energy into their tail so they don't tip over into the wall. In studying this, we made both math models and physical models and we were able to make a robot do the same thing as the animal.

Narrator:       This could lead to the creation of more nimble search-and-rescue robots, or ones that have a greater capacity to quickly detect chemical, biological or nuclear hazards.

Full:               I think our fundamental research really shows the importance of curiosity-based research because you never know where it will lead.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.