A robotics specialist at the University of Michigan is studying the behavior of cockroaches as part of an effort to find the most suitable way to design robots that can think on the fly. Using high-speed videos of the insects running, Shai Revzen determined that roaches react to surprises passively, which he says can provide insight into the development of multiple-legged robots. "We shouldn't try so hard to control things actively; we should just build a good passive mechanical system and end up with a robot that's far simpler and more reliable," he said.

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