Monday, 12 October 2015

On soft ground? Tread lightly to stay fast

Soft steps and large feet can allow animals and robots to maintain high speeds on very loose soil and sand

Date:October 9, 2015

Source:Institute of Physics

These findings, reported today, Friday 9th October, in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomechanics, offer a new insight into how animals respond to different terrain, and how robots can learn from them.

The researchers, based at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, USA, and Northwestern University, Evanston, USA, developed a test-bed to test the performance of different animals and a hexapedal robot over loose ground.

"It's important to understand the biomechanics and controls of good movement" explains Daniel Goldman, an author on the paper. "If we can find out how these animals solve the problem we can make better robots."

The study marks nearly 10-years of development on the test-bed and locomotion testing and modelling, following efforts by Wyatt Korff and Goldman, who developed the first test-bed whilst at UC Berkeley working with Robert J Full.

"This is like developing the terrestrial equivalent of a wind tunnel in terms of studying movement over different terrain" continues Goldman. "It allows us to look at movement across the ground in a variety of highly controlled states and really see how these animals adjust to different types of terrain."

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