Robots would now Learn to Fall from Cats and Divers: Biomimicry


It’s not just the design but the falling mechanics too are being studied for implementation by researchers in biomimicry. In an attempt to develop natural reflexes in robots, scientists at the US are studying the techniques through which cats and athletes twist their body mid-air without being injured at the landing. By recreating the similar reflexes in droids, researchers aim to cut down the probability of robots crashing especially during hazardous missions like search-and-rescue operations.

Landing angle

Dr. Karen Liu, an associate professor in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology has been simulating the physics involved during ninja-like reflexes seen from falling cats and mid-air orientation that divers & astronauts take. Professor Liu said that the sudden stop at the landing from a fall causes injury and not the fall. Hence, the landing angle is the key point, which is responsible for killing or otherwise. In order to gain more insights, a robot consisting of a body with a pair of symmetrical limbs is used. In order to compensate instantaneous movement, which the bot is not capable of performing, the team created an extremely low gravity environment for the experiment.

Teaching droid to fall

The aim of the research is to enhance the capability of a robot by computing the ability of reaching to a landing angle that might avert its crashing. Phenomena, which can be seen among cats but not in humans as human brain cannot render the sequence of poses during a fall hence, fails to achieve safe landing. Plus, the joint limits or muscle strength are some of the natural constrains that prevents us from altering poses in rapid succession.


In case of robotics, the current motor mechanics are not fast enough therefore the researchers are looking forward to develop a motor that can work quickly with respect to the falling speed so that when a droid fall, it automatically poses for the landing angle, which makes it less prone to crash.

Good strategy to fall has better chances to survive than falling passively hence robots of the future need to have the bouncing back ability that might increase their chances of ‘living’ and researchers in the field are positive about the future technology.

Source: Georgia Tech College of Computing

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