Biophysicist Explains What We Can Learn by Making Animal Robots

Robotics engineers are learning about evolution by making robots inspired by kangaroos, hummingbirds, dragonflies and more.

Jesse Orrall Senior Video Producer
Jesse Orrall (he/him/his) is a Senior Video Producer for CNET. He covers future tech, sustainability and the social impact of technology. He is co-host of CNET's "What The Future" series and Executive Producer of "Experts React." Aside from making videos, he's a certified SCUBA diver with a passion for music, films, history and ecology.
Expertise Future tech, sustainability, social impact of technology Credentials
  • Gold Telly Award, 2X Silver Telly Award
Jesse Orrall

Evolution has been innovating for billions of years longer than human engineers. So it's only natural that animals have a head start when it comes to developing efficient and reliable ways to move. That hasn't stopped engineers from trying to mimic and even outdo nature in an attempt to understand and surpass evolution's secrets.


SnakeBot from Carnegie Mellon University.

Carnegie Mellon University

We joined biophysicist Dwight Whitaker at Pomona College to show him some of the wildest animal-inspired robots we could find to get his reactions.


The dragonfly-inspired BionicOpter from Festo


Whitaker taught us about the various lessons engineers were taking from these animals, how they were applying them to make robotics more efficient, robust, and dynamic, and where humans may have out-engineered nature.


The BionicKangaroo from Festo.


To see Whitaker's reactions in full, check out the video embedded in this article.

Watch this: What These Wild Animal Robots Are Teaching Engineers (Biophysicist Reacts)