Strike, Chomp, Jump

<p>Saad Bhamla</p>

Saad Bhamla

Robots still can’t compete with the fastest-jumping insects and other small-but-powerful creatures. New research helps explain why nature still beats robots, and describes how machines might take the lead.

Take the smashing mantis shrimp, a small crustacean not much bigger than a thumb. Its hammer-like mouthparts can repeatedly deliver 69-mile-per-hour wallops more than 100 times faster than the blink of an eye to break open hard snail shells.

Or the unassuming trap-jaw ant: In a zero-to-60 matchup, even the fastest dragster would have little chance against its snapping mandibles, which reach speeds of more than 140 miles per hour in less than a millisecond to nab their prey.

A new mathematical model reported in Science – a study co-authored by Saad Bhamla, researcher in the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at the Georgia Institute of Technology could help explain how these and other tiny organisms generate their powerful strikes, chomps, jumps, and punches.

Check out the entire story, with interactive gifs, written by Duke University's Robin Smith, right here.