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’s TED talks

More news and ideas from Robert Full

Live from TED

In case you missed it: Day 2 at TED2014

March 19, 2014

So what went down at TED on day two? Well, a lot, as it happens. As curator Chris Anderson commented rather tiredly later, “that was the most intense day of TED I can remember, ever.” Here, a lightning round-up of some of the day’s key moments. Edward Snowden trundles onto stage The first big surprise […]

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Live from TED

Progress for “the blue heart of the planet” and a plan to de-extinct a kayak: A recap of “Planet Dearth,” All-Stars Session 1 at TED2014

March 18, 2014

By Liz Jacobs and Kate Torgovnick Are we on the brink of a resource crisis? All signs point to yes. As the human population grows, the planet is buckling under the pressure of our needs. In this inaugural All-Stars session, 11 classic TED speakers return to the stage to share their deep concern for preserving […]

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