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Researchers at Johns Hopkins Study Crickets' Aerial Acrobatics in Hopes of Building Better Robots

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Researchers Emily Palmer and Rajat Mittal, with a cricket.

The ways spider crickets move and leap are being incorporated into a new generation of jumping robots.

Credit: Hub

Johns Hopkins University (JHU) researchers say they have spent more than eight months studying spider crickets in an effort to develop a new generation of small but skillful jumping robots.

The researchers used high-speed video cameras to determine how the crickets can leap a distance to about 60 times their body length. "We're looking at the way the spider crickets move their bodies and move their limbs to stabilize their posture during a jump," says JHU researcher Emily Palmer.

The research could contribute to the design of tiny, high-jumping robots to navigate rugged, uneven ground. These types of robots would utilize a more efficient, and probably less expensive, form of locomotion compared to flying robots or humans on foot, according to Palmer.

The researchers created detailed three-dimensional models depicting how each insect's body parts move during a leap and a landing. JHU professor Rajat Mittal says a new generation of jumping micro-robots modeled on these crickets might someday be able to help look for victims after a powerful earthquake or carry out other tasks without putting humans searchers at risk.

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