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Why Aren't Robots Matching Animals in Speed?

Why Aren't Robots Matching Animals in Speed?

Burgeoning progression in the robotics sector over many years, albeit with substantial financial backing, hasn't been able to trump the agility and speed found in animals. We have yet to produce a robot that can outpace or outperform the multifaceted feats that many animals are capable of undertaking.

A typical wildebeest can traverse thousands of kilometres over uneven terrains while maintaining its pace. Mountain goats miraculously climb steep, rocky cliffs, finding grips on barely visible outcroppings. Even a cockroach, minus a limb, can continue to scuttle at unabated speed. According to Dr. Max Donelan of Simon Fraser University's Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, no current robot can emulate this endurance, agility and resilience.

To delve into this overarching disparity, an amalgamation of scientists and engineers conducted a thorough investigation examining various elements of running robots; this research was subsequently compared to their animal equivalents. Despite the findings that real-life components perform surprisingly poorly against their fabricated counterparts, animals take the lead due to superior integration and control.

The team was composed of specialists from various fields, including Dr. Sam Burden from the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Washington; Drs. Tom Libby, Senior Research Engineer, SRI International; Kaushick Jayaram, Assistant Professor in the Paul M Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder; and Simon Sponberg, Dunn Family Associate Professor of Physics and Biological Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The researchers discovered that engineering subsystems consistently outperform biological components, often dramatically. Despite this advantage, it is evident that animals outshine robots concerning whole system movement. However, considering robots' relatively short evolution versus animals' millions of years, the growth seen so far in robotics is considerable and promising.

The future is bright for robotics; its directed evolution could quicken its development pace, surpassing the more random nature of natural evolution. Progress here is likely to accelerate due to the ability to transfer the advancements of one robot across all others, a function unavailable to biological entities.

Developing swift, efficient robots poses not only an engineering challenge but also paves way for technological solutions to various issues. From solving the 'last mile' delivery difficulties to performing hazardous tasks in unfriendly terrains, the technology's applications are vast and versatile. The study's insights stand to guide future robotic developments, aiming to excel, not merely at building sophisticated hardware but at integrating and controlling the existing ones more efficaciously.

In conclusion, as Dr. Donelan commented, "[With] engineering learning integration principles from biology, running robots will become as efficient, agile, and robust as their biological counterparts."

Disclaimer: The above article was written with the assistance of AI. The original sources can be found on ScienceDaily.