Big Dog

Biologically-inspired engineering work is everywhere.  When mechanical engineers wanted to build a better all-terrain robot, they reverse-engineered the cockroach.  When the Australian military wanted to build a better target detection system they studied the fly eye.   

For the latest in this trend, check out BigDog.

If you have a high-speed internet connection, click on the video link to download the movie.  BigDog is truly amazing. Notice, for instance, how the robot responds when kicked hard from the side by a member of the research team, as it is going through its paces at Harvard's Concord MA field station.  Have you ever noticed that many biologists operate with a "strange non-linearity" in their reasoning about such systems. Namely, they readily credit the complexity of BigDog to its engineering & design team at Boston Dynamics...but when met with the incomprehensibly greater design of "ordinary" dogs—random mutations and natural selection get the credit.