Robot Animals: Why Designers Use Nature as Inspiration

Growing up, you probably had a robot pet, like an animatronic dog or a furby.

Those toys had pretty basic functions back then, but today, we’re seeing a whole new level of robotic animals. So why do scientists spend time replicating what already exists?

Festo Bionics is one such company that creates bionic animals and believes that nature can inform technologic design.

In addition to informing engineering, they can also help in dangerous situations. Boston Dynamics has spent years developing animals like their WildCat, BigDog, and SandFlea. The interesting creations might not look like their animal counterparts, but the company builds them in the hopes that they will be able to help in reconnaissance or search and rescue. Their engineering and algorithms allow them to run fast and stay stable, which could help in rescue missions.

Boston Dynamics’ Spot and Spot Mini are built similarly to dogs, and the Spot Mini functions to help people indoors. It has a ridiculously functional arm that can grip/open doors, making them perfect companions for those who might need assistance.

In the future, this could be more commonplace — and robot pets could also exist for satisfaction/companionship. In fact, Hasbro has already created a set of realistic animals, including cats and a golden retriever. So robotic animals could be becoming more commonplace — and will probably continue to get more realistic.

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