Creepy, Crawly Robots

Scientists are studying crabs, cockroaches, and other creatures to build robots.

Most people think cockroaches are pests. Roy Ritzmann thinks they are incredible creatures. "They're fast, he says. "They're easy to take care of."

Ritzmann is a biologist at Case Western Reserve University, in Ohio. His enthusiasm for insects is a big part of his job. Ritzmann is helping other scientists at the school build robots. They are using bugs as models!

Robot designers want to make better machines by using the features that help animals survive.

Scientists have taken a special interest in insects, lobsters and scorpions. These critters are very good at adapting to different habitats. Their many legs help them travel easily over uneven ground.

The new robots may use their animal-like behaviors to find people who are trapped. They will be able to climb, crawl or swim into dangerous places.

Creepy, crawly robots may one day work for NASA and the U.S. military. RoboLobsters will search for underwater weapons called mines. Robots based on scorpions and roaches will explore Mars. They will be able to go places that current wheeled rovers cannot.

So have some respect for humble bugs. They might help us make major discoveries someday.

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Third Grade
Jackson Davis Elementary School

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