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Leg spines set to give robots better footing

Darren Murph
February 17, 2007
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Just what we need: an invention to make the robotic armies that will one day surely turn against their creators better scramblers. Regardless of future impact, researchers at the University of California and Pennsylvania University are envisioning "leg spines" that would allow robotic creatures resembling insects and spiders to scramble across gap-ridden surfaces much better than they currently can. The scientists carefully watched slow-motion footage of arachnids dashing across wire mesh and noticed just a 22-percent slow down from running across solid ground. Apparently, the little buggers are able to distribute their weight just so across their myriad of legs, so that there's usually one leg that catches another's fall and prevents the creature from getting too caught up. This biological method is being applied to robotic limbs, assisting crawling creatures to make it across less-than-ideal conditions by utilizing mechanical feedback. Look, we're down with eight-legged freaks, we're just not so fond of these things possessing an inhuman ability to track us down should a case of mutiny sweep the robotic world.

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