Cats Teach Robots To Land On Feet




This is Scientific American's 60-Second Tech. I'm Larry Greenemeier. Got a minute?
Robots have evolved in leaps and bounds in recent years, but they still cannot safely leap or bound.
They have to move carefully.
If a robot were to fall from an elevated surface, for the most part it would crash down like a bag of rocks.
Not ideal if that robot is on a rescue mission.
So a team of Georgia Tech researchers wants to produce robots that are more agile, by making them literally cat-like.
Specifically, the plan is to create a robot that can emulate a cat's uncanny ability to calculate the best landing angle, adjust its body midflight and land on its feet.
So far the research team has been able to build a robot capable of computing landing angles during test falls.
They hope to eventually give the robots joints that can twist or flip their bodies to stick the landing, regardless of the angle.
To do that, they'll need better motors and servos.
The ones available today are not fast enough to sufficiently adjust a robot's body in real time.
Baby steps.
David Belle didn't develop the cityscape acrobatic activity known as Parkour overnight.
And the typical house cat has had tens of thousands of years to perfect the soft landing.
Thanks for the minute, for Scientific American's 60-Second Tech. I'm Larry Greenemeier.