Juvenile Praying Mantises: Perfect Robot Models

Long, protracted bugs with capable legs, for example, grasshoppers and crickets appear to experience difficulty landing. When they hop it shows up pretty much unplanned and very sloppy.

Actually, another study really shows that inverse: that the praying mantis, for instance, makes a series of calculations before hopping and afterward makes adjustments both on take -off and afterward mid-air to guarantee they arrive precisely where and how they need.

Study author Gregory Sutton, from Bristol University remarks, “The mantis gives itself an amount of angular momentum at take-off and then distributes this momentum while in mid-air: a certain amount in the front leg at one point; a certain amount in the abdomen at another – which both [stabilize] the body and shift its orientation, allowing it to reach the target at the right angle to grab on.”

Early perceptions saw that mantises turn their legs when they hop and researchers had already thought this would create spin which drives them to land in that aimless manner. Yet the new study really proposes that the bug turns awkwardly intentionally so it can harness that turn in mid-air, as per study author Professor Malcolm Burrows, of the Cambridge University Department of Zoology.

“We can see the mantis performs a scanning movement with its head before a jump. Is it predicting everything in advance or does it make corrections at lightning speed as it goes through the jump? We don’t know the answer between these extreme possibilities,” Burrows explains.

Sutton relates this to its potential for helping build better robots. He says, “For small robots, flying is energetically expensive, and walking is slow. Jumping makes sense – but controlling the spin in jumping robots is an almost intractable problem. The juvenile mantis is a natural example of a mechanical set-up that could solve this.”



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