The design geniuses at UC Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab turned to a seemingly unlikely creature for inspiration for their DASH hexapedal robot -- the cockroach.

They studied the running gait of cockroaches and were able to figure out a brilliantly simple way to mimic it with the small six-legged DASH, which can crawl over obstacles and survive 90-foot falls.

Robots built off of knowledge gleaned by the DASH team could someday save lives by crawling through collapsed buildings and mines. We need to look to nature more often when designing everything. It has had a lot of time to work out all the kinks of life. A few billion years of evolution is a heck of lot of time for R&D.

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Shea Gunther is a podcaster, writer, and entrepreneur living in Portland, Maine. He hosts the popular podcast "Marijuana Today Daily" and was a founder of Renewable Choice Energy, the country's leading provider of wind credits and Green Options. He plays a lot of ultimate frisbee and loves bad jokes.

Turning to cockroaches for running lessons
Researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a tough robot that runs fast and takes its design cues from the lowly cockroach.