How nature can inspire robotic design

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You should be more familiar with robotics now and have started to think of how your InsectBot will look like and the specific characteristics it will have in order to adapt to the Mars environment. 

Now let’s talk about how insects and nature can inspire robotic design.

Our five senses – sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing – provide information about the world around us. How can a robot gather information in a similar way to study environments we can’t visit in person? Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, or JPL, often take inspiration from nature when building robots. Some of these robots even go to space! Here are some examples of robots designed inspired by nature:


This robot can scale rock walls, gripping with hundreds of tiny fish hooks in each of its 16 fingers. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to find its way around obstacles.

Click here to see it in action.


The spiderbot prototype could fit in the palms of an adult’s cupped hands. It steps over obstacles, scales rocks and reaches areas of interest that would normally be inaccessible to wheeled rovers running on flatter paths. Spiderbot uses a set of antennas as feelers to detect obstacles and terrain as it moves about on six spindly legs.


Ants are one of the most intelligent creatures on our planet. They build colonies that have societies with the division of labour, communication between individuals, and the ability to solve complex obstacles. BionicANTs are small robot ants inspired by real ants. See how they function here.


Foldable robots that could scout regions on the Moon and gain intel about locations that may be difficult for astronauts to investigate on foot, like hard-to-reach craters and narrow caves.Learn more here.

We’ve asked Hin who is a senior lecturer at the University of Waikato and has a Master of Engineering in Mechanical, Mechatronics of Robotics disciplines to answer a few questions to help you out with your design.

Kia ora Hin,

Where does your passion for robotics come from?

“Since being young, I love playing Lego and I love watching cartoons and anime like Gundam, Robotech, Macross and Transformers, and it is very fun to build robots and a very ambitious goal to make the robots in cartoons and anime real!”

According to you, what is the most important component when designing a robot?

“It is the functionality and how best a robot can solve the problem or issue.”

Which website or video would you recommend for rangatahi to learn about building a robot?

ASIMO by Honda. It shows how difficult it is to replicate human motion and we took a big leap in making this possible. Check it out here. Also, the Gundam design because it is so cool!

Go to: > InsectBot Home > Learn About Robotics