By Barry Trimmer, as told to Flora Lichtman
Posted 07.25.2011 at 10:27 am 1 Comment
I make robots that are soft and floppy. If you can change your shape, you can go anywhere—you can squeeze through small holes in a rubble field and navigate unstructured terrain like forests. The problem is that if you’re soft, you’re slow, because when you push against something, your body deforms rather than creating forward motion. So we looked to the caterpillar as a model.
Plenty of people are designing robots inspired by nature’s designs, but most of them are rigid machines made of metal, plastic or polyester film. Fleet-footed robots or hoverbots are unable to bend and squish into tight spaces, but squirmy, agile ones like snakebots can’t move very fast.
A new soft-bodied silicone robot aims to change that, squirming into tight spaces with ease and covering great distances quickly, flipping out like a caterpillar under siege.
Not content with laying its eggs inside a caterpillar's body, a parasitic wasp then turns the host into a zombie babysitter
By Stuart Fox
Posted 06.20.2008 at 1:50 pm 4 Comments
Let's hope the Glyptapanteles wasp continues to find caterpillars tastier than humans — otherwise mankind might be in some trouble. As if laying 80 eggs inside of a caterpillar's body weren't bad enough, a new study published by the Public Library of Science details how the wasp larvae then take over the mind of the caterpillar, turning it into a zombie-like bodyguard.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.