Skip to Content

Insect-Like Robots Walk Faster When They Ignore Nature

If six-legged automatons want to get ahead, they should only leave two feet on the ground.
February 17, 2017

Three legs good, two legs better. At least, that’s the case if you’re counting the number a six-limbed robot should leave on the ground to move quickly.

Roboticists often borrow from nature when it comes to walking styles—but that doesn't mean the movements are necessarily the most efficient. Most insects leave three of their six legs on the ground as they scuttle, but they do so to ensure they maintain enough friction against a surface to allow them to climb slopes. Now, calculations published in Nature Communications by researchers from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland reveal that leaving just two feet on the floor can make movement faster on the flat.

Testing that idea out using a robot modeled on a fruit fly yields results that speak for themselves: in the video, the top robot leaves three feet on the floor, while the bottom one leaves just two. The latter is 25 percent faster. When the insect robots of your nightmares chase you down, expect them to be coming faster than you expected.

(Read more: Nature Communications, “DARPA’s Robot Challenge May Equip Robots to One Day Walk Among Us,” “The Latest Boston Dynamics Creation Escapes the Lab, Roams the Snowy Woods,” “Agile Robots”)

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

How do strong muscles keep your brain healthy?

There’s a robust molecular language being spoken between your muscles and your brain.

The 1,000 Chinese SpaceX engineers who never existed

LinkedIn users are being scammed of millions of dollars by fake connections posing as graduates of prestigious universities and employees at top tech companies.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.