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29.11.12

BioSwimmer is far from the first robot to be inspired by the natural world. Over the years designers have attempted to replicate everything from the slithering of a snake to the bounding of a cheetah, in their quest for mechanical perfection.
Imposing: The hulking Kabutom RX-03 a large beetle shaped robot designed in JapanOne of the most tricky traits to mimic is flight, but the SmartBird, which was inspired by the herring seagull and created by scientists at technology firm Festo, has been deemed so realistic it could be mistaken for the real thing.

Its revolutionary design allows it to start, fly and land autonomously. It can be controlled by a radio handset but will also simply glide through the skies if left to its own devices. One recent creation with obvious military potential is the Boston Dynamics LS3 AlphaDog, a four-legged, autonomous robot that can follow a soldier like a cross between a faithful hound and a pack mule. This incredible machine can stand upright, walk for 20 miles without a break and carry up to 400 pounds.

Another impressive design from the Boston Dynamics stable is a robot cheetah which, funded by the US Military, has set a new speed record for legged robots by sprinting at 28.3 mph - faster than Olympic sprint champ Usain Bolt.

Engineers at Boeing aviation this year demonstrated new technology that enables aerial military drones to function like a 'swarm of insects' where they can communicate and carry out tasks in mid-air.The drone development could lead to lower costs and less risk in military welfare, Boeing said in a statement.

OCRobotics a company based in Bristol, UK, have successfully created a robot arm that moves like a snake, capable of wriggling its way into hard to reach or hazardous places such as nuclear reactors where they can carry out delicate tasks.The arm, which is self-supporting, is controlled by steel wires that run through movable links, while various tools can be fitted to the end such as cameras, lights, cutting equipment or swabs.

The robot has already been used to carry out vital repair work at a nuclear facility in Sweden and a safety inspection at a plant in Canada.Meanwhile researchers at Harvard University are perfecting their incredible robot fly which weighs just 60 milligrams and has a wingspan of three centimeters.

This tiny robot's movements are modeled on those of a real fly. While much work remains to be done on the mechanical insect, the researchers say that such small flying machines could one day be used as spies, or for detecting harmful chemicals.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is funding the research in the hope that it will lead to stealth surveillance robots for the battlefield and urban environments.

Recreating a fly's efficient movements in a robot roughly the size of the real insect was difficult, however, because existing manufacturing processes couldn't be used to make the sturdy, lightweight parts required. The motors, bearings, and joints typically used for large-scale robots wouldn't work for something the size of a fly.

At the other end of the scale is the Kabutom RX-03 - a large beetle shaped robot designed in Japan.
The hulking Kabutom measures 11-metres in length and weighs a hefty 17-tonnes. It can walk with its six legs and is powered by diesel engines and blow smoke from its nose.
BioSwimmer is far from the first robot to be inspired by the natural world. Over the years designers have attempted to replicate everything from the slithering of a snake to the bounding of a cheetah, in their quest for mechanical perfection.

One of the most tricky traits to mimic is flight, but the SmartBird, which was inspired by the herring seagull and created by scientists at technology firm Festo, has been deemed so realistic it could be mistaken for the real thing.Its revolutionary design allows it to start, fly and land autonomously. It can be controlled by a radio handset but will also simply glide through the skies if left to its own devices.

One recent creation with obvious military potential is the Boston Dynamics LS3 AlphaDog, a four-legged, autonomous robot that can follow a soldier like a cross between a faithful hound and a pack mule.This incredible machine can stand upright, walk for 20 miles without a break and carry up to 400 pounds.

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