Robots have to be able to move, perhaps quickly, on all kinds of terrain — search and rescue missions on remote parts of Earth or explorations on other planets like Mars will require it. So terradynamic researchers at Georgia Tech are creating and testing robots that have different leg shapes, all inspired by animals, to handle movement in a variety of environments. Bonus technology: 3D printing.
“For years and years, vertebrate paleontologists have really been confined to working with the shapes, with the morphology, of bones and with skeletons, as you can see behind me here. And our hypotheses about how these ancient animals lived and moved was based on how we could put these bones together in the physical world.
“And now for the first time in the history of paleontology, we’re able to move beyond those methods and into this virtual landscape where we can test our biomechanical hypotheses in rigorous ways that were never possible before.”
In February 2012, Dr. Lacovara’s paleontology department teamed up with the University’s engineering department to scan their fossils to make 3D models that could be made into fully working arms and legs. Wrap some engineered muscles around those… add more parts… and perhaps we’ve got the most accurate robot dinosaur ever made!