Cal Cockroaches Lead to Robot Technology

UC Berkeley researchers have figured out how cockroaches can disappear from sight so quickly.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The cockroach is a notoriously creepy escape artist. Now, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have figured out the insect manages to skitter out of sight without getting swatted. (Published Thursday, Jun 7, 2012)

    The cockroach is a notoriously creepy escape artist. Now, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have figured out the insect manages to skitter out of sight without getting swatted.

    In addition to its lightning speed, quick maneuvers and ability to squeeze through the tiniest cracks, the cockroach also can flip under a ledge and disappear in the blink of an eye, the researchers found.
    The insect does this by grabbing the edge with grappling hook-like claws on its back legs and swinging like a pendulum 180 degrees to land firmly underneath, upside down, but still able to scurry full speed.

    Surprisingly, the researchers discovered a similar behavior in lizards, animals that have hook-like toenails, and also documented geckos using this escape technique in the jungle at the Wildlife Reserves near Singapore.

    The researchers teamed up with UC Berkeley robotics experts to recreate the behavior in a six-legged robot by adding Velcro strips.

    The UC Berkeley team published the results of the study, and a video, on Wednesday in the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE.