Free Press Journal

Biomimetic robots that act like birds, insects and fish


Researchers, scientists and the armed forces have recently developed robots that act and look like animals. Some are just meant to be toys, but others have the capability to spy on enemy territory and assist soldiers in a mission. Robots no longer just resemble humans, they are now taking after birds, geckos and insects — it’s almost like the “Beast Wars: Transformers” cartoon. The following are biomimetic robots that look and act like animals:

Although it doesn’t look like a bat, the Deployable Air-Land Exploration Robot’s design was inspired by the vampire bat. The biomimetic robot can fly and crawl across the floor just like a real bat does. The robot uses the tips of its wings as claws to walk, and then it can expand its flexible wings to become airborne. The researcher behind the design, Ludovic Daler, told Motherboard that he was inspired by the bat because it uses its wings to adapt to flying or walking, and he wanted a robot that could adapt to any situation.

DARPA is known for being innovative with their projects and releasing futuristic robots. One of their latest is a drone that swims and looks exactly like bluefin tuna. The drone is called GhostSwimmer, and it is meant to assist divers and sailors during their missions. The drone would serve as a spy that has the capability to swim depths ranging from 10 inches to 300 feet deep. The GhostSwimmer weights nearly 100 pounds and it is 5 feet long.

This gecko-inspired robot can walk on any smooth surface by using dry directional adhesives. The robot was developed by a team at Stanford University that was able to crackdown the formula to DARPA’s gecko-inspired adhesive. The robot was also designed to look like a gecko, especially when it comes to its feet. StickyBot is 30 centimeters long and weighs 300 grams, which makes it easier to carry its own body up glass, acrylic and tiled walls.

Festo SmartBird
Festo’s SmartBird looks and flies like a herring gull. It has the capability to start, fly and land autonomously. Festo made the bird out ultra light materials so it could have extreme agility and good aerodynamic qualities. Although from a distance it looks exactly like a herring gull, the one thing it lacks is the irritating cry the real bird makes.

The BionicOpter is one of the biomimetic robots that most resembles the animal it was inspired by. The BionicOpter is a 17.3-inch robotic dragonfly that can flutter in any direction. It can beat its four-carbon fiber and foil wings up to 20 times per second, which makes it look like it swimming through the air rather than flying. The dragonfly can be controlled by using a smartphone app.

-Compiled by Ankita Das