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The Green Life: Mechanical Mimicry: 5 Robots that Emulate Animals

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December 17, 2013

Mechanical Mimicry: 5 Robots that Emulate Animals

Warning this spider bot may give you nightmaresMany technological innovations seek to emulate nature. And through biomimicry, these robots are getting pretty darn close. 

Some of these bots were built for fun, some for research, and some just for beating records, but they all make it easy to marvel at just how complicated and beautiful nature really is.

Robugtix's Octopods

This little creepy crawly creature, built by Hong Kong based Robugtix, is potentially the most authentic spider bot available (it is even for sale). Its 3d printed parts make it extremely light at only 300 grams and allow for precise and subtle movements that almost make you forget it is not the real thing. Plus, the little blue eye adds a HAL aspect from 2001: A Space Odyssey that makes us smile. Check out Adam Savage of Mythbusters playing around with his below (skip ahead to 1:45 or 6:05 for fascinating and fear-inducing spider close-ups):


Boston Dynamic's Cheetah

Maybe the only thing scarier than a spider bot is imagining the world's fastest robot sprinting at you. Built by Boston Dynamics, the "Cheetah" is a four-legged running machine (literally) that can reach speeds of up to around 28.3 mph. Though it is not as fast as its 60 mph feline counterpart, it might be even scarier because unlike a real cheetah, you might actually have time to see this one coming for you. Check out the similarities in gait:


HiBot's ACM-R5H

Sorry in advance for the ridiculous music in the video but this serpentine snake bot is completely worth it. Developed by HiBot, a Japanese robotics company, the ACM-R5H is part of a line of robots developed for extreme conditions. For the ACM-R5M, that means diving into water and becoming a sea serpent capable of slithering its way easily into hard-to-reach places and inspecting the depths with its built-in camera. The similarities between this bot and a real snake are sometimes uncanny.


Boston Dynamic's RiSE

This tiny little bug-like or gecko-like robot has the awesome ability to climb vertically up a wall or a tree. And though it moves pretty slowly, if this Boston Dynamics climber has any relation to its Cheetah cousin, expect little RiSE to be sprinting up a wall someday.


Festo's Smart Bird

The flying finale is Festo's Smart Bird. The Smart Bird is a compact carbon-fiber bird-bot that weighs only one pound! It can take off, fly, and land all without any human assistance. Plus, its beautiful design makes it nearly impossible to tell that it is not the real thing. 


James RogersJames Rogers is an editorial intern at Sierra. He graduated from Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment, where he studied a combination of environmental studies and journalism. While at Western, he was the editor in chief of The Planet magazine, and he has written for Conservation Northwest QuarterlyPublic Eye Northwestand The Western Front.

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