Animalia Robotica

Wired has an interesting gallery of robotic animals, from swimming “fish” to sprinting “cheetahs”. While many of the robots are in simplistic prototype form, they certainly mark a path down an interesting road of diverse mechanical helpers. Or potential foes, depending on your imagination.

Robo Spider
A white robotic spider could someday help emergency responders assess chemical spills “in environments that are too hazardous for humans,” according to a press release from Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

Robot Sunfish
Roboticist James Tangorra of Drexel University developed his mechanical sunfish with the help of biologists and neuroscientists. It can sense its own body, just like a real fish, and has pressure sensors that measure water flow and pressure.

Robo Worm
An elastic, flexible robotic worm on wheels can inch its way through a simple set of obstacles.

Robo Cheetah
In March, Darpa released a video of their robotic cheetah running at a top speed of 18 mph. Though that’s faster than most people, it’s still a ways off from a real cheetah’s top speed of about 70 mph.

Robo Jelly
Engineers designed an underwater robot that looks and moves like a moon jellyfish. Unlike previous electrically powered jellyfish robots, this one uses heat energy to move, giving it a longer lifetime.

Robo Gecko
StickyBot, modeled after a gecko, is “a mix of biology, mechanics and motion,” claims a YouTube video from its Stanford University designers.

Robo Fish
Simus is a bionic robofish designed by engineers at German research organization Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, who claim the 3.5-inch swimmer is the world’s smallest autonomous robotic fish.

Squirrel robots help researchers at the University of California, Davis understand how real squirrels interact with their main predators, rattlesnakes.

Man’s best friend has a robotic alter-ego: the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s AlphaDog, also known as Legged Squad Support System, or LS3. The headless pooch is equipped with sensors that let it differentiate between trees, rocks and people.