How Cockroaches Crash Into Walls and Keep Going

Anyone who’s tried to kill a cockroach knows that the ancient pests have some world-class evasive maneuvers. Or at least they appear to.

The agility of cockroaches may owe less to lightning-fast reflexes and fancy footwork than their tough, shock-absorbent bodies. According to a new study, American cockroaches can run full-speed into walls and other obstacles because their exoskeletons allow them to recover quickly with hardly any loss in momentum.

A team of biologists and roboticists led by Kaushik Jayaram from the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley built wall-hitting robots after being inspired by the behavior of real cockroaches.