Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Intelligent Machines

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.

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”)

The AI revolution is here. Will you lead or follow?
Join us at EmTech Digital 2019.

Register now
More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.