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Looking to animals when designing robotics

 

Narrator:       This is Science Today. Robots have long been the subject of human fascination and, at least in the movies, they have tended to be modeled after our human selves. But these days, many scientists are turning to animals for robotic inspiration. Some researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, looked at lizards because of their unique ability to control their bodies during free fall.

Full:               We picked lizards because they have an interesting capability with their tails.

Narrator:       Biologist Robert Full and his team of engineers used their observations about the lizards to design a new kind of self-stabilizing robot that could one day be used for search and rescue missions. Full says without so many interesting animals to study, these kind of direct applications wouldn't be possible. 

Full:               It's important to realize that although we're interested in their fundamental principles, that these principles can lead to direct applications that we never would have imagined before and so it's important then to save those individual species. If they go extinct, their secrets will be lost forever.

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