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Robot Tarzan can swing from cables to monitor crops

Robot Tarzan can swing from cables to monitor crops

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There's a whole niche of childhood development pontification relating to monkey bars. It's good for muscles, it's good for motor skills, and it's a great way to break an arm and therefore develop character! (I didn't read the literature too closely.) Since robots are our machine babies, the development of a robot Tarzan marks an important milestone.

As spotted by Engadget, the Tarzan bot was developed by researchers at Georgia Tech. The motion was actually modeled after the efficient movement of a sloth, but in action it's a little more exciting than that. While the movement looks simple — it just lets go of one "hand" and uses its momentum to swing forward and grab further down the cable — anyone who has watched Ninja Warrior or attempted a similar feat with their adult flesh muscles knows it's not an easy trick. Tarzan bot's movement is also part of a newer trend in robotics where elasticity and the falling motion (something we use every day when walking or running) can be features, instead of something to be completely controlled for or eliminated.

What's less inspiring is Georgia Tech's proposed use for these robots: farming. Not that farming isn't cool, but it's hard to imagine how one of these robots, suspended over a field by a cable, would be any more effective than a Skycam-style system to watch crops.