The project seeks to create the â€œInspiratâ€, a prototype climbing robot. Yes, in case you were wondering, the name does come from â€œinspirationâ€ and â€œratâ€.
Come on, tell me you can’t get excited about a project that combines robots, saving the world, and awesome moving rat x-rays. You have no choice. if you don’t think this is cool, then there’s just something wrong with you.
Apparently some scientists are more or less making movies of rats climbing things, except the movies are series of x-rays. They hope to use the rat climbing technique to make robots that can climb. Treehugger is interested because “a robot capable of performing inspection or maintenance activities in previously unreachable locations could extend the lifespan of buildings and structures, perhaps even enable new green construction materials to be developed." That seems like an awfully optimistic outlook to me, but they’re the treehuggers, and I’m just a complainer.
It’s funny - you occasionally see these experiments where we take some natural organism that’s really good at something, and try and mimic the technique it uses with a machine. This seems like common sense to me. A few hundred thousand years of evolution probably got a few things right - we might try at least starting with all that prior knowledge.