Team Spotlight | The Droids You Were Looking For

On a gloomy Saturday afternoon, most Cornell buildings are eerily silent. Not Carpenter Hall. To the uninitiated, its basement seems more like an off-limits factory workspace. But inside, a shiny golden droid, Star Wars’ C3PO, casually rests against a pillar. Right opposite, a mini-rollercoaster fully equipped with a seat to simulate its sudden drops blocks out the clutter of electrical wires.

Robots Find Inspiration in Nature at Cornell’s Organic Robotics Lab

If you think of a robot, you’re probably picturing C-3PO, Ultron or Wall-E. But what if robots don’t need to be big, humanoid and upright? What if they aren’t even made of metal?

The Organic Robotics Lab in Kimball Hall, headed by Prof. Robert Shepherd, mechanical and aerospace engineering, focuses on creating such robots. They use soft materials to replicate movement and functions from organisms already found in nature.