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Zoobots: Robots Inspired By Animals

The robotic helper “Asimo” is an example of how a robot can be directly modeled after a living creature—in this case, humans.
The robotic helper “Asimo” is an example of how a robot can be directly modeled after a living creature—in this case, humans.
Eric Thayer/Getty Images

Robotic technology is quickly becoming a focus area for researchers, programmers and creative thinkers. Now that communicative and information technology has been developed to complete societal implementation, physical robotics are starting to take center stage. Consumer robots like the home helper Asimo are starting to filter into the market. Modeled after human beings, robotic home helpers are expected to be able to take over chore tasks—like vacuuming, doing dishes and making beds—for their human masters. Suddenly, the robotic maid “Rosy” from the 1970s cartoon sitcom “The Jetson’s” doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore!

As robots become more implemented in society it becomes clearer and clearer that practically any creature can be recreated in robotic form. In fact, a book has recently been published on the subject which offers fascinating insight into the possibility for robotic models in the near-future.

“Zoobots: Wild Robots Inspired by Animals” is written by Helaine Becker, an award-winning children’s author. The book details robots that have been crafted after the physical appearance and capabilities of real-life animals. For example, a snake-like robot on the cover of the book can coil and climb just like its’ flesh and blood counterpart and a flying droid robot was modeled directly after the wings of a bat.

According to the book description:

“Innovations in the world of robotics are multiplying, with many cutting-edge breakthroughs, and this exciting and timely new book for young readers explores one particularly intriguing area: the world of robo-animals, or zoobots. In an attempt to design robots that can solve problems or perform tasks that humans can't, or just can't do easily, roboticists have been looking at the unique skills some animals have. Using something called mechatronics -- mechanical and electrical engineering combined with computer science -- they are finding ways to closely mirror those skills in robot form. Some fascinating examples from the book of what zoobots can do include: finding survivors of a fire using sensitive, computerized "whiskers"; scaling skyscraper walls using super stickiness; or delivering drugs deep within the human body using microscopic whiptails for locomotion. Twelve zoobots are described, each on its own two-page spread. Award-winning children's author Helaine Becker's text is comprehensive, yet clear and lively, and is made more manageable by being broken up into shorter segments. The futuristic design of the book includes vivid, detailed color illustrations by Alex Ries, of both the zoobot prototypes as well as the animals from which their skills were derived. This imaginative and interesting nonfiction book will definitely capture the imaginations of technology buffs. It also has enormous potential for classroom use in exploring everything from basic technology and robots, to engineering concepts, to inventions. A glossary and an index make it work well as a wonderful reference tool.”

For less than $13 children can explore the possibilities that this field offers via this book. Considering the promising future of robotics this is certainly something that will interest anyone who knows a child who is interested in building robots, computer software programming, or other technological-savvy fields.

The book can be ordered here:

For additional information about the book’s illustrations see here:

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