You may recall Mexican jumping beans from cartoons, but you probably never thought to study them for robotics.
According to PhysOrg, “Mexican jumping beans (Laspeyresia saltitans) begin their lives when the mother moth lays its eggs in the flowers of a native fern in early summer.” As the larvae grow they need to move the seed pods to find shade. To do so, they hop and roll the pods, giving the “beans” their name.
Studies of the beans dates back to 1955. Today, by observing the rolling, jumping, and flipping of the beans, researchers calculated the frequency of each type of movement.Using this data they began to believe larvae’s movements could be implemented in micro-robots. According to one of the researchers their movements, “might be implemented in a much smaller robot.”