Nature-inspired robotics for physical interaction with the world

Conference Dates

September 8-13, 2019


Figure 12. An adhesive microbot pulls a weight while climbing a vertical surface.

As we bring robots out of the laboratory and into the world at large, one of the most important lessons we can learn from nature is how not only to tolerate but to exploit physical interactions with the environment. Examples of robots that need to take advantage of surface interactions include multimodal flying/climbing robots, adhesive microrobots that can pull loads, and robots that grasp and manipulate objects or surfaces using arrays of insect-inspired microspines or gecko-inspired adhesives. In each case, these robots have prompted collaborations with biologists and materials scientists to develop new materials and structures that exploit interactions in the environment. Nature offers many examples of structures and functional materials that help to manage these interactions. Investigations of them also allow us to discover new opportunities for synergy when combining multiple locomotion modes (e.g., flying and climbing).

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