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Studying Caterpillars in Robotic Design

The July 25, 2010 edition of the Boston Globe features a great article by Carolyn Y. Johnson which reveails how researchers at Tufts University are studying caterpillars to create soft-bodied robots that can burrow into hard to reach areas to find solutions for search-and-rescue operations and even medical applications.

X-rays of the movement of caterpillars has shown that they thrust their innards forward before the rest of the body when it moves. Caterpillars also seem to defy gravity as they can move the same way going upwards or downwards.

The need for robots to have a "soft" malleable body will help them access environments that rigid robots might find impossible. Applications for such soft-bodied robots are being examined in not only in-hospitable places on Earth but also on other planets and elsewhere in space.

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