Studying Cockroach Locomotion:, Scientists Learn How to Build Better, More Mobile Robots

A research team at Johns Hopkins has developed a prototype robot with movements inspired by those of a Central American cockroach species. (Will Kirk / Homewood Photography)

A research team at Johns Hopkins has developed a prototype robot with movements inspired by those of a Central American cockroach species. (Will Kirk / Homewood Photography)

March 26, 2018 | Source: John Hopkins University, hub.jhu.edu, 13 Feb 2018, Phil Sneiderman

When they turn up in pantries or restaurant kitchens, cockroaches are commonly despised as ugly, unhealthy pests. But in the name of science, Johns Hopkins researchers have put these unwanted bugs to work.

In a crowded, windowless lab, scholars and students are coaxing the insects to share some crucial locomotion tips that could help future robotic vehicles traverse treacherous terrain. In the aftermath of an earthquake or on the unexplored, alien surface of another planet, for example, a cockroach could persist where humans hesitate to go.