Crayfish tail inspires Mars robot design
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Once again, scientists are learning from the designs in nature to build high-tech machines, a field called biomimetics. This time, zoologist David Macmillan and other researchers from the University of Melbourne (Australia) are studying the tail of a yabby, Australia’s freshwater crayfish, to design miniature robots that NASA hopes to use to explore Mars. Dr Macmillan says:
‘The tail of the yabby acts like a hinged lever, changing form to act as a sail for steering or a powerful paddle for swimming. The arrangement of muscles and levers presents an interesting case study in biological solutions to problems associated with the dynamics and control of multijointed levers. Such levers could be used in the design of multijointed legs for mobility over difficult terrain, or in activities requiring precision lifting and leverage.’
Engineers Australia, p. 24, February 2002.
How much more can we learn from the Solver of these problems?