Thursday, May 24, 2018

Bioinspired Microrobots

Image result for robot bug

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

The summary of a March 1, 2018 press release from the University of Manchester published in Science Daily reads, Jumping robot spiders and swarms of robotic bees sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but researchers are already working on such projects.

The research is led by Dr. Mostafa Nabawy, the Microsystems Research Theme Leader at the University of Manchester's School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering. His team includes a member of the royal jumping spiders (Phidippus regius), trained to "jump different distances and heights, recording the spider's every movement in extreme detail through high resolution cameras which can be slowed down" so that all changes in the spider can be recorded and analyzed.

This work is a lead into the future of manufacturing technology that makes use of complex engineering and manufacturing.  It is new territory for scientists and engineers.

According to the BBC's Helen Briggs,  "The scientists recruited a number of female spiders for their work, buying them at a pet shop in Manchester. But only Kim obliged with making the required leaps when presented with a take-off and landing platform they built in the lab."

I hope you have had the opportunity to watch jumping spiders and look them in the eye(s). What observant critters. They appear to study you as much as you study them. They seem to be every bit as interested, too. And then suddenly, they are gone, having jumped to a new place.

As you know there is considerable scientific research on animal minds. The evidence is that many animals have inner lives, many of them, richly so. Briggs quotes Professor Nabawy about this spider's mind at work. She will jump at the optimal angle, which means that she can understand the challenge that she is presented with. And then she can time her jumping performance at take-off to execute a jump that is optimal in terms of energy demand.

Briggs's BBC report includes a film of Kim's jumping and also a photograph of her in color. What a gloriously beautiful animal.

No comments:

Post a Comment