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Three-Legged Dogs Teach Robots New Tricks

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By Charles Q. Choi For MSNBC.com

Analyzing how three-legged dogs run could help inventors design and develop robots that can adapt to “injuries,” researchers now report.

Scientists have made great strides in walking robots over the decades, but significant questions remain about how they would perform in the real world. To help prepare droids for life outside the lab where the unexpected might happen, biologist Martin Gross at the University of Jena in Germany and his colleagues wanted to see how nature solved problems in locomotion, such as the loss of limbs.

Gross chose man’s best friend to study largely because they are relatively easy to handle. In addition, he noted that “my brother has four dogs, and one of them is a three-legged dog that had a hind leg amputated because of cancer, and he’s still the fastest of the four.”

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