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A new robotic system imitates the capability of insects to rapidly transition between different walking gaits, in response to external stimuli. The small robot utilizes an integrated artificial neural network. The technology might ultimately find use in better-performing prostheses but could also open the way for other robotic systems.

The NeuroPod, a 3D-printed six-legged robot was developed by researchers from Spain’s universities of Seville and Cadiz. Down the road, its artificial neural network could be incorporated into items such as powered prosthetic arms, that quickly transition between performing different actions in response to the user’s nerve impulses.

According to, the robot’s onboard microprocessor incorporates 30 artificial neurons, which presently receive electronic stimuli in the form of various signals relayed from an adjacent hard-wired computer. In response to those signals, the neurons instantaneously send commands to 18 servomotors that control the robot’s legs.

As soon as a signal is received, the NeuroPod smoothly and instantly switches between walking, trotting and running gaits. The team claims that such is not the case with other walking robots, that have to pause while processing control commands before changing gaits – and when they do change, the process is often clumsy and awkward.