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Robots mimic cockroach's disappearing act (+video)

Cockroaches are adept at vanishing under ledges in the blink of an eye. Now researchers have built a robot that replicates the insect's feat. 

New cockroach behavior discovered by University of California, Berkeley, biologists secures the insect's reputation as one of nature's top escape artists, able to skitter away and disappear from sight before any human can swat it.
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A robot that copies how cockroaches and geckos can disappear under ledges in the blink of an eye could lead to search-and-rescue droids with animal-like maneuverability, researchers say.

Scientists regularly look to nature for inspiration when designing robots, with the hope of learning from millions of years of evolution. Recent examples include droids that mimic the cheetah's stride or the legs of velociraptor.

While monitoring a cockroach with high-speed video cameras to see how it crossed gaps while running at high speeds, "we were surprised to find the insect gone," said researcher Robert Full, an integrative biologist at the University of California at Berkeley.

"After searching, we discovered it upside-down under the ledge," Full said. "After close inspection of the video, we saw that the cockroach was using its legs as grappling hooks by engaging its claws at the tip of the ledge."

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