Cockroaches could help build better robots in future
- Former Ranji player held, Sreesanth and others to be produced in court today
- Li Keqiang pitches for more Chinese investments as he backs trade balance
- All eyes on Narendra Modi as BJP set to discuss strategy for Lok Sabha polls
- SC agrees to hear PIL to stay IPL matches due to spot-fixing
- Monstrous tornado rips through US city of Oklahoma, 90 dead
Researchers have found that running cockroaches start to recover from being shoved sideways before their dawdling nervous system kicks in to tell their legs what to do.
These new insights on how biological systems stabilize could one day help engineers design steadier robots and improve doctors' understanding of human gait abnormalities.
In experiments, the roaches were able to maintain their footing mechanically using their momentum and the spring-like architecture of their legs, rather than neurologically, relying on impulses sent from their central nervous system to their muscles.
"The response time we observed is more than three times longer than you'd expect," Shai Revzen, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, as well as ecology and evolutionary biology, at the University of Michigan researchers have found.
"What we see is that the animals' nervous system is working at a substantial delay," Revzen said. "It could potentially act a lot sooner, within about a thirtieth of a second, but instead, it kicks in after about a step and a half or two steps about a tenth of a second. For some reason, the nervous system is waiting and seeing how it shapes out," he said.
To arrive at their findings, the researchers sent 15 cockroaches (one-by-one, in 41 trials) running across a small bridge onto a placemat-sized cart on wheels. The cart was attached to an elastic cord that was pulled tight like a loaded slingshot and held in place with a strong magnet on the other side. Once a roach was about a body length onto the cart, the researchers released the magnet, sending the cart hurling sideways. The force was equivalent to a sumo wrestler hitting a jogger with a flying tackle, said Revzen, adding that cockroaches are much more stable than humans.
To gather detailed information about the roaches' gait, the researchers utilized a technique Revzen developed several years ago called kinematic phase analysis. It involves using a high-speed camera to constantly measure the position of each of the insects' six feet as well as the ends of its body.
- 'Sophisticated' Indian cyberattacks targeted Pak military sites: Report
- Talkative Li quoted Weber, Hegel, Jobs, said PM is large-hearted
- Bihar food corp ends up with chaff as rice worth Rs 535 cr vanishes from mills
- In 7 lucrative minutes on May 9, Sreesanth bowled 6 balls, bookie made Rs 2.5 cr
- India and China ask border envoys to work on more steps
- Former Ranji player among 3 more held