Mental Floss

How Stick Bugs Move, A Motion-Capture Study

Chris Higgins
YouTube // The New York Times
YouTube // The New York Times / YouTube // The New York Times

Using the same technique that brought Gollum to life in The Lord of the Rings, researchers in Germany have studied the movement of stick bugs. They placed motion-capture dots on each articulated point (each of its six limbs, at the various joints), then filmed the bugs in motion, and extracted the location of those points to make a 3D computer model.

In addition to the motion capture, they had the bugs walk on force-sensing plates, so that each step would register a force value. This allows for a good sense of where the bug's center of gravity is, and what each leg is doing. All of this is written up in a paper and briefly shown in the video below.

So why would anybody do this? To make better six-legged robots, of course! Now, this begs the question: What's the difference between a stick bug and a six-legged robot? You'll see both in this video, and they are eerily similar. Enjoy:

You can read more about the research from the New York Times as you prepare to welcome our new six-legged robot overlords.