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
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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.

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