A virtuous cycle between invertebrate and robotics research: perspective on a decade of Living Machines research

Michael Mangan*, Dario Floreano, Kotaro Yasui, Barry A. Trimmer, Nick Gravish, Sabine Hauert, Barbara Webb, Poramate Manoonpong, Nicholas Szczecinski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Many invertebrates are ideal model systems on which to base robot design principles due to their success in solving seemingly complex tasks across domains while possessing smaller nervous systems than vertebrates. Three areas are particularly relevant for robot designers: Research on flying and crawling invertebrates has inspired new materials and geometries from which robot bodies (their morphologies) can be constructed, enabling a new generation of softer, smaller, and lighter robots. Research on walking insects has informed the design of new systems for controlling robot bodies (their motion control) and adapting their motion to their environment without costly computational methods. And research combining wet and computational neuroscience with robotic validation methods has revealed the structure and function of core circuits in the insect brain responsible for the navigation and swarming capabilities (their mental faculties) displayed by foraging insects. The last decade has seen significant progress in the application of principles extracted from invertebrates, as well as the application of biomimetic robots to model and better understand how animals function. This Perspectives paper on the past 10 years of the Living Machines conference outlines some of the most exciting recent advances in each of these fields before outlining lessons gleaned and the outlook for the next decade of invertebrate robotic research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number035005
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalBioinspiration & Biomimetics
Issue number3
Early online date27 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • insect
  • invertebrate
  • Living Machines
  • minds
  • morphology
  • motion
  • robot


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