Bugs a Major Source of Inspiration in Robotics Robotics is a relatively new science, really gaining traction in the early 1980s. Back then, robots shaped like insects were large enough to carry human passengers on their backs. But scientists have made huge strides in recent years, both in reducing the size of robots and equipping them with all the bells and whistles that our silicon-valley age offers. Despite progress in creating sensors to help navigation and report data, the challenge remains how to move through – and around – obstacles. Insect movements are a perfect template, because most insects spend their lives crawling, climbing, dangling, and scuttling on every imaginable surface. One design that continues to be improved is the VelociRoach. Recent upgrades have included spines on its legs and a super svelte ovoid shell. The spiny legs give the robot greater traction, while the rounded shell allows for roll-and-tumble maneuvers that allow that roach to slip between barriers. "What's so great about nature is, what we're trying to do with robotics is solve a lot of really hard problems like how to get around, how to walk on difficult terrain, and nature has already solved it," said Nick Kohut, chief executive of Dash Robotics, a company that produces little robots for home assembly.