What These Wild Animal Robots Are Teaching Engineers (Biophysicist Reacts)
What These Wild Animal Robots Are Teaching Engineers (Biophysicist Reacts)
8:06

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

Biology
Speaker 1: Oh, or maybe it's a, some kind of constrictor snake. Oh, but it climbs that way too. This is remarkable. So maybe it's looking for its prey. I'm Boy Whitaker. I'm a professor at Poona College. I'm a biophysicist who studies plant dynamics. Today we're gonna be looking at robots that are inspired by animal motion scientists who've watched animals move and now adapted it to our robot technology. This looks to me like a scary robotic kangaroo sometimes. Now, people don't like to use the word biomimicry because [00:00:30] engineers don't try to exactly copy biological organisms here. However, we seem to have something that is very much biomimicry. I think it's pretty much the angle of the kangaroo that's sort of gives it a lot of its momentum. There are actually a pogo sticks that have been made inspired by the same sort of thing. So this one looks like it's a pneumatic robot. Speaker 1: So pneumatic is using pressurized air to move things back and forth. This one, rather than being powered by motors, or at least the legs aren't powered by motors, they're powered by pressurized air, which I think can actually probably move a little bit faster than [00:01:00] a motor. At least more sudden bursts of energy and a motor for the tail. Yes, the tail's gonna give it the balance. By going through these motions and actually trying to reproduce a kangaroo's motion, we're gonna learn a lot more stuff about the details of how the kangaroo is so effective at jumping high and efficiently. Um, and that might inspire maybe some sort of robots that could go out in different terrains. They have basically tried to recreate a kangaroo from scratch, a little less cute Speaker 1: Again. [00:01:30] They, they've given us a clue with the face. So that looks to me to be a bat. Okay, It's got the hinged wings, right? So bat, um, basically is just, it's wings are just evolved. Arms, remember their mammals, right? So it's got, um, all the same articulated joints that we have. It has a wrist, it has an elbow. The fingers are actually the sort of filaments that go down the wing. And here, you know, an evolution was evolving bats from some sort of rodent that was probably a terrestrial rodent. All the evolution happened in the arm. And what Festo [00:02:00] has done here is taking the same articulations where you have a shoulder, an elbow, and a wrist, basically with some fingers on the end and attach that to some really cool looking very light membrane. When that is not a small bat, um, that looks almost like a, a flying fox or something size bat, I guess it's not even remote controlled. This, this thing is flying on its own. So clearly we aren't very far from the robot overlords taking us over. Speaker 1: This looks to be a mini hummingbird that they've [00:02:30] created. Hummingbird wing motion is just one of the most remarkable things there is. Most birds will get energy on sort of just one stroke, but the hummingbird, you can sort of see the wings go back and forth and back and forth, and it's getting lift on both the downstroke and the upstroke of its wings. One thing that nothing in nature can do as far as we know is rotate around like a helicopter, right? So we've made drones and things like that that usually use rotating turbines to fly. I actually think this is one of the cases where humans might have out done evolution. Evolution [00:03:00] was sort of stuck with limbs that could only move back and forth. So the hummingbird has to fly by moving its wings back and forth. If evolution could have had a propeller, it probably would be more efficient, but it's, it's cool to see that engineers are actually working with this sort of same constraint that hummingbirds have. Speaker 1: And I'm sure there's some robustness is gonna come out of that. And some other reasons that mimicking the hummingbird motion as opposed to just creating another drone is a, is an effective, uh, way to find things. Next up, the bionic wheel bot wheels not common in nature. It's [00:03:30] very hard to get joints that can just roll continuously and still power themselves. So let's see what they've come up with here. Kind of looks like a spider maybe, but I guess not a spider. Cuz we have six legs. Or is there an eighth leg? Maybe It is an eighth leg. And in, in this case, they're looking at different insect gates, right? Where the middle legs move together, the front legs move together, and then I think it's gonna start rolling itself along. Maybe it's gonna be like a roll pulley. That's pretty cool. I don't know what animals do that, but I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't some insects that do [00:04:00] curl themselves in a ball and push themselves along with one of their legs. And there it goes to take over the world. Speaker 1: A snake maybe, I don't know. Again, it's just a whole bunch of articulations. And then you'll have some sort of wave that travels down the thing. So a worm, I guess, would travel this way. Oh, or maybe it's a, some kind of constrictor snake. Oh, but it climbs that way too. This is remarkable. All right, so not only do we have articulation as usually these things, but they can rotate [00:04:30] as well. So it can wrap itself around a tree and then just sort of roll itself up. That is cool. And look, it has an eye too, and it's looking at things. So maybe it's looking for its prey. I'm guessing this one is bio mimicking some kind of snake, but that is a really cool mechanism to climb a tree. Um, I'm impressed and I imagine it could even, once it gets to branches, use its articulation to sort of get outta that branch and climb out. So it should be very versatile climber as well. Speaker 1: [00:05:00] Okay, this looks like a dragon fly to me. They are primitive flies and that they have four wings and it's the more advanced flies that have two wings. This is a case where I actually evolution did actually get rid of a limb. This is pretty remarkable thing, and I imagine the tail is there for stability. Dragonfly is a hunter that hunts other flying objects. So a remarkably great flyer, um, and a great thing to mimic. If it's like a dragon fire, it should be highly maneuverable and very fast. It's even got the eyes there and everything and some articulation at the head. That is really cool. Speaker 2: [00:05:30] Oh, Speaker 1: A jellyfish. Jellyfish are remarkable animals. Some of the work that's been done on jellyfish shows that as they sort of undulate like this and this thing undulates, they actually eject a vortex ring that moves down. A vortex ring is the same thing that a smoker would make when it blows a smoke ring. And it's a really efficient way to move a fluid through another fluid. The other thing that a vortex ring does is as the vortex ring travels down from the jelly fish's body is it tends to pull water in from the surrounding areas. And that's [00:06:00] perfect for the jellyfish because in that water is usually some of the prey that it preys on. So by ejecting a vortex ring down, the jellyfish can become mobile and, um, transport itself from one place to the other. But at the same time, it's drawing prey right towards its tentacles. Speaker 1: Holy cow. So, okay, this is incredibly light and then filled with helium. But again, if we're trying to mimic a a jellyfish, it should be buoyant, right? Jellyfish don't sink. I wonder, another thing that jellyfish does is it actually creates not just a vortex ring, but a very [00:06:30] special vortex ring. It's the one that's just powerful enough to make a single vortex ring. Um, it's called an optimal vortex ring in nature. So far, all the vortex rings we've seen formed have been optimal. So I, I'm hoping, and I'm imagining that this company that makes this, uh, remarkable robot is looking at sort of how hard and how frequently to flap its, its tentacles. Um, to create an optimal vortex ring, which will give you the most, um, propulsion for the little least amount of energy will be the most efficient [00:07:00] way to propel yourself. It's way cooler than a drone, in my opinion. Speaker 1: This, this would be a really cool way to, uh, to strap a camera to that thing and maybe go and, you know, film things from above would be pretty cool. Yeah, so that, those are some fantastic videos. Um, I learned a lot by watching them. I think hopefully by watching sort of engineers try to make robots that do what animals can do, you can start to really see how remarkable evolution has, has worked to make such magical machines [00:07:30] that are the living organisms that are all around us. Um, and it's really, even the best engineers in the world are only making sort of fact similes of this that aren't quite the same, that are not nearly as as, um, impressive as an actual jellyfish or an actual kangaroo. Um, but as we get in, as we learn more and more about the biomechanics and how, what the tricks evolution has come up with, we're gonna make better and better robots. And maybe one day we'll catch up. Evolution has a big, big head start on us. But, um, this is pretty remarkable [00:08:00] stuff.

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