Johns Hopkins Cricket Research Could Lead to a New Generation of Robots

[music] “The Blue Danube” waltz Watching these animals in slow motion is exactly like watching an elegant ballet happening
in front of you. The way they control their flight in the air
is very much like a ballerina would do. They really are masters of aerodynamics. [music] “The Blue Danube” waltz My name is Rajat MIttal. I’m a professor of mechanical engineering
at Johns Hopkins University. I want to understand the engineering aspects
of these creatures and how they’re able to do what they’re able to do. [Emily Palmer]: So we’re studying spider crickets. They don’t actually have wings like most field
crickets would. So we’re looking at the way they move their
body and move their limbs to stabilize their posture during a jump up to 75 or 80 times
their body length. We set the cameras up to take a ten second
long video. We’re able to capture them in slow motion
very accurately. From there we pull it into a motion tracking
software. [Nico Deshler]: And using this program we get to recreate
the jump in three dimensions. This 3D model basically allows us to determine
the different forces acting upon the cricket. [music] “The Blue Danube” waltz [Rajat]: What we found that we didn’t expect was that
on the first part of the flight they actually streamline themselves to maximize the distance
that they are going to travel. But once they reach the apex of their trajectory they immediately transition to kind of a stabilization posture. Now the next thing is to land nicely. Ultimately the application would be in really
tiny robots jumping robots over uneven terrain. [earthquake rumble] [Rajat]: You can imagine a situation where there’s an earthquake and we want to send in an army
of micro-robots to search for injured people and you can imagine how complicated that environment
would be. A small micro-robot inspired by these insects
could potentially navigate this kind of terrain in a much more effective manner. [music] “The Blue Danube” waltz It’s only when you slow these critters down
that you really start to see the beauty and the intricacy of the way they move. [Emily]: It’s kind of beautiful in a really weird way that you wouldn’t expect to see beauty most of the time.

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