Answer: A beetle.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers may have discovered the answer to one of the biggest plights robots face — being unable to right themselves after they lose their balance. The solution may come from a biological species that shares this problem — bugs.
A bug called the click beetle, to be specific. Apparently these little critters have developed a hinge-like feature in their backs that allows them to launch themselves into the air. The beetle bends its head back and then abruptly releases it, activating the hinge and making its body temporarily airborne. This is also what gives the click beetle its name, since this hinge makes a clicking sound when it releases.
“We observe, model and validate each stage of the jump with the hopes that we can later integrate them into a self-righting robot,” said Amy Wissa, the mechanical engineering professor and the study’s lead investigator, in a statement.