QUINN, R.D.*; RITZMANN, R.E.; CHIEL, H.J.; VAIDYANATHAN, R.; Case Western Reserve University; Case Western Reserve University; Case Western Reserve University; Naval Postgraduate School: Neuromechanics of Biorobots

Our research has demonstrated the value of focusing on both the biomechanics and neural control of biological organisms as a basis for a new generation of flexible, adaptive robots that can function in unstructured, changing environments. We are developing robots for two distinct purposes. The goal of one line of robots and robotic components is to serve as hardware models to test biological hypotheses. We strive to incorporate as many details of the animalís locomotion system as possible in these devices often using new technologies. Our other goal is to abstract the knowledge we have gained about animals and use current technology to develop near-term mission capable robots. These goals are complementary. As we learn more about animal neuromechanics, we can improve our robotsí capabilities. We have constructed hardware models whose reflexes and biomechanics were based in detail on cockroaches and other insects. We have also constructed patented, mission capable robots (WhegsTM) based on abstracted cockroach locomotion principles, which have their locomotion control mechanisms imbedded in their mechanics (preflexes as suggested by Robert Full of Berkeley). We are implementing insect autonomy mechanisms into the WhegsTM vehicles. Our research also includes developing innovative robots with soft bodies based upon mollusks.