recommended reading

Robots Haven't Had Much Luck Walking On Sand -- Until Now

Robotics researchers aim to imitate creatures that can run on sand, like this male Red Headed Agama.

Robotics researchers aim to imitate creatures that can run on sand, like this male Red Headed Agama. // Sayyid Azim/AP File Photo

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the natural world should be positively humbled by the current state of robotics. We have flying robots that mimic birds. We have leaping robots that mimic fleas. We have robots that mimic cheetahs and horses and snakes, making themselves at home within and upon all manner of surfaces.

One thing we've had a little less success in replicating, though, are the lightweight creatures that scamper over liquid-like surfaces like snow (and mud, and sandy beaches, and leafy piles, and pebble-y paths). The technical term for these slippery surfaces is "granular media" (or, even more technically, "flowable ground") -- and they've represented a significant challenge to would-be designers of automata. Walking on sand or snow requires a certain level of flexibility from the walker in question -- the kind human muscles are great at achieving, and the kind that's nearly impossible to achieve when your feet are made of metal or plastic. As a result, it's been especially difficult to build robots that are suited to traveling on terra sorta-firma.

Enter Chen Li, Tingnan Zhang, and Daniel Goldman -- a trio who, today, announced their development of "a resistive force model that predicts forces on arbitrary-shaped legs and bodies moving freely in granular media in the vertical plane." Which is another way of saying, as Discovery Magazine puts it: They've created a model that is "a crucial first step of building a sand-walking robot."

Read more at The Atlantic

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.