Robert Full studies cockroach legs and gecko feet. His research is helping build tomorrow's robots, based on evolution's ancient engineering.

Why you should listen

UC Berkeley biologist Robert Full is fascinated by the motion of creatures like cockroaches, crabs and geckos having many legs, unusual feet or talented tails. He has led an effort to demonstrate the value of learning from Nature by the creating interdisciplinary collaborations of biologists, engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists from academia and industry. He founded CiBER, the Center for interdisciplinary Bio-inspiration in Education and Research, and the Poly-PEDAL Laboratory, which studies the Performance, Energetics and Dynamics of Animal Locomotion (PEDAL) in many-footed creatures (Poly).

His research shows how studying a diversity of animals leads to the discovery of general principles which inspire the design of novel circuits, artificial muscles, exoskeletons, versatile scampering legged search-and-rescue robots and synthetic self-cleaning dry adhesives based on gecko feet. He is passionate about discovery-based education leading to innovation -- and he even helped Pixar’s insect animations in the film A Bug's Life.

What others say

“Dr Full cheerfully admits that some of his real-life critters can be disgusting, but they offer valuable insights into how to conquer challenging terrain.” — The Economist

Robert Full on the TED Blog
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