Cousin Rob, is that you?
Not that we’re biased about sloths or anything on this website, but these animals have a lot to offer—especially if they’re robotic.
Do you ever wish you could be a fly on the wall? What about a sloth on a wire? If you’re heading to the Atlanta Botanical Garden in the next few months, look up—you might see a little friend up in the trees!
Robotics engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have built a robotic sloth, appropriately named SlothBot, designed to record and observe temperature, weather, carbon dioxide levels, and everything else that goes on in their 30-acre midtown Atlanta forest. Powered by solar panels, SlothBot moves back and fourth on a cable between two trees very, *very* slowly. But, according to the engineers, that’s what made this idea so perfect.
According to Magnus Egerstedt, chair of electrical and computer engineering for the Georgia Institute of Technology, the speed of the robot is embraced as a design principle. “Being slow and hyper-energy efficient will allow SlothBot to linger in the environment to observe things we can only see by being present continuously for months, or even years.” The slower the better when it comes to recording information, apparently!
As if it wasn’t cool enough, the sloth also allows researchers to look at conservation from a whole new perspective. Researchers are hoping it will help scientists ‘better understand the abiotic factors affecting critical ecosystems,’ which in turn ‘provides a new tool for developing crucial information needed to protect rare species and endangered ecosystems.’
Vice President for conservation and research at the Botanical Garden, Emily Coffey, explained “with the rapid loss of biodiversity and with more than a quarter of the world’s plants potentially heading toward extinction, SlothBot offers us another way to work toward conserving those species.” Coffey further explained that the bot “could do some of our research remotely and help us understand what’s happening with pollinators, interactions between plants and animals, and other phenomena that are difficult to observe otherwise.”
If SlothBot delivers results, it’ll be moving on to bigger and better things. After the Botanical Garden, researchers are hoping to send it down to South America where it will observe orchid pollination, or perhaps the lives of endangered frogs. Ya know, the easy stuff.
What we can take from this is that sloths are awesome, and we need them to save the world…and to deliver trending news articles.