Stability is a big problem for robots, especially on uneven terrain, so researchers have taken a number of different approaches to try and make them light on their feet. In Germany, roboticist Axel Schneider is drawing inspiration from an unusual source: stick bugs.
The insect robot he is working on, known as Hector, has six legs, each of which can move independently. This allows the robot to adapt to uneven terrain, like a rocky surface, and stay steady on its feet. New Scientist reports that Schneider and his team created a shell for Hector that has 18 interconnected elastic joints that work as muscles. That way the legs can move freely until they find the ground for each step.
Hector is currently equipped with near-range sensors and cameras that help it determine how best to approach obstacles and how to position its body. In the future Hector will be equipped with other types of sensors so it can execute more insect-like behaviors. The goal is to use Hector for things like animal locomotion study in the field, though the robot seems to be a study in animal locomotion itself.