Geckos and cockroaches – the perfect escape artists

Images
Video
  • American cockroach on and robot on ledge with gecko venturing underneath. Photo Credit Jean-Michel Mongeau, Ardian Jusufi and Pauline Jennings. Courtesy of PolyPEDAL Lab UC Berkeley
  • Gecko, American cockroach and robot under ledge. Composite photo and not to scale. Photo Credit Jean-Michel Mongeau, Ardian Jusufi and Pauline Jennings. Courtesy of PolyPEDAL Lab UC Berkeley
  • American cockroach on ledge. Photo Credit Jean-Michel Mongeau and Pauline Jennings. Courtesy of PolyPEDAL Lab UC Berkeley
  • American cockroach on ledge. Photo Credit Jean-Michel Mongeau and Pauline Jennings. Courtesy of PolyPEDAL Lab UC Berkeley
  • House gecko on ledge. Photo Credit Jean-Michel Mongeau, Ardian Jusufi and Pauline Jennings. Courtesy of PolyPEDAL Lab UC Berkeley
  • Sequence of rapid inversion behavior in a cockroach, gecko, and a robot prototype. Copyright PLoS ONE 2012
  • Kinematics of rapid inversion for animals and robot. Copyright PLoS ONE 2012
Date:18 October 2012 Tags:, , , ,

To survive while being chased by predators, cockroaches and geckos leap off ledges at top speed, then use their rear feet as grappling hooks to catch themselves before they fall. The wily animals then swing to the underside of the ledge, disappearing from a predator’s view.

University of California, Berkeley, biomechanics and computing experts analysed the manoeuvre to recreate the behaviour in a six-legged robot called DASH (Dynamic Autonomous Sprawled Hexapod) by fitting the robot’s rear legs with Velcro for grip.

The ultimate goal is to produce small, highly mobile search-and-rescue robots that can match the agility of cockroaches and geckos over broken terrain to reach victims quickly.

“This work is a great example of the amazing maneuverability of animals, and how understanding the physical principles used by Nature can inspire design of agile robots,” said Ron Fearing, UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

The UC Berkeley team published the results of the study in the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE.

Video courtesy of PolyPEDAL Lab, UC Berkeley