When robots are deployed in space, often dispatched to study harsh and unknown environments, they must be able to adapt if a mechanical problem arises. Much like an animal in the wild has to make adjustments due to injury or environmental change, researchers are inspired to create ways for robots to make changes.
A hexapod robot that uses one robotic arm and six legs had to endure damaged or missing legs while trying to move across the floor in a straight line. A different test required ping pong balls to be dropped into a stationary cup, even with the robotic arm broken.
Researchers were tasked with creating an algorithm so robots were able to successfully complete assigned tasks, even while working in less than optimal physical condition. The study found it was possible to have "robots behave more like animals by endowing them with the ability to adapt rapidly to unforeseen circumstances."