London, Feb 19: Effecting a breakthrough in making insect-inspired robots run faster, Swiss researchers, led by an Indian-origin scientist, have found a new way by which six-legged insects increase their walking speed. Six-legged insects run fastest using a three-legged, or “tripod” gait where they have three legs on the ground at all times — two on one side of their body and one on the other. Researchers at University of Lausanne and école Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland revealed that there was a faster way for six-legged robots to locomote on flat ground, provided they don’t have the adhesive pads used by insects to climb walls and ceilings.
In the findings, the designers of insect-inspired robots broke away with the tripod-gait paradigm and consider “bipod” gait as other possibility of locomotor strategy. “We wanted to determine why insects use a tripod gait and identify whether it is, indeed, the fastest way for six-legged animals and robots to walk,” said Pavan Ramdya, co-lead and corresponding author of the study. The scientists carried out a host of computer simulations, tests on robots and experiments on Drosophila melanogaster — the most commonly studied insect in biology. They found that the common insect tripod gait did emerge when they optimised their insect model to climb vertical surfaces with adhesion on the tips of its legs. (IANS)