Jellyfish and Robots

We’ve seen so many cases of biology inspiring robotics that we shouldn’t be surprised by a new report from Caltech. Robotics engineers have been inspired by kangaroos, octopi, and more. So why not moon jellyfish?

In this case, the big news is self-repair. Self-repair in the natural world usually involves regenerating limbs or healing wounds, which means generating cells. Not something machines can do.

What the Caltech researchers in the video above found was a new kind of self-repair. The jellyfish they worked with didn’t regenerate their lost limbs with biochemical processes. Instead, they used mechanical methods to rearrange their limbs into a new symmetry. They ended up with fewer limbs, but they regained the symmetry they needed to be functional.

This gave the researchers a new way to look at the possibility of self-repairing robots. Instead of thinking in terms of creating machinery that could build itself a new part or solder its own damaged parts into place again, they started thinking about a robot which could rearrange itself into a new shape that would still allow it to do its job.

Many researchers and engineers are currently working on self-repairing machines. At this point, using sensors to identify problems at a distance is quite practical. This helps human beings to step in and make repairs, but that’s not the same as a self-repairing machine.

Other studies are working with the idea of adaptation in robots, essentially a problem-solving protocol that could allow a robot to continue its work even if it loses a motor. The new Caltech study could extend that possibility.

Your Rexroth motion control units will not repair themselves, though. If you need support for your Rexroth electric motor, drive, or control, we can help now.


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