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article imageOp-Ed: Scientists create robot inspired by housecat

By Abigail Prendergast     Jun 17, 2013 in Technology
House cats have been household pets for thousands of years. Now, a Swiss company has created a robotic version of the feline, comparable to MIT's robot cheetah that broke Usain Bolt's speed record.
The felis catus - or domestic house cat - is nothing short of a cultural icon when it comes to pets, and animals in general. Coming in many different shapes, sizes, and breeds, cats have been worshiped, revered, and even despised over the course of history.
It is theorized that the first-ever set of felines were domesticated in human homes about 10,000 years ago within the boundaries of the Fertile Crescent. Known in Ancient Egypt as "mau," cats were perceived as holy due to their acute hunting ability. Such skills were taken as an omen from the goddess, Mafdet.
Cats are some of the planet's most quick and agile animals, which of course, share a family with the world's fastest land animal, the Cheetah. A few months back, a robotic version of this speedy and highly maneuverable animal was created by scientists at MIT, ultimately beating Usain Bolt's speed record by 0.52 mph.
The cheetah-bot now has its own smaller sibling, known as cheetah cub-bot, having been designed with the aforementioned house cat in mind.
According to Tree Hugger, the goal of the researchers at Switzerland's École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), was to make an android version of the felis catus for potentially being of value when it came down to "search and rescue missions which would require quick action over uneven terrain."
A press release from the Swiss company states that the cat's main source of strength comes from its legs, hence the design of the cat-bot. The "faithful reproduction" of these extremities is apparent in the cat-bot's design.
There are three segments on each leg, much like an actual cat. The legs are also proportioned exactly to those of their flesh counterparts.
"Springs are used to reproduce tendons, and actuators – small motors that convert energy into movement – are used to replace the muscles," the statement continues.
Although the cheetah cub-bot can already run seven times its own body length in one second, scientists are still looking for ways to improve upon the details.
EPFL has also produced a robot salamander, capable of both walking on land and swimming in water.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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