Zoobots: Wild Robots Inspired by Real Animals

Overview

Innovations in the world of robotics are multiplying, with many cutting-edge breakthroughs, and this exciting and timely new book for young readers explores one particularly intriguing area: the world of robo-animals, or zoobots. In an attempt to design robots that can solve problems or perform tasks that humans can't, or just can't do easily, roboticists have been looking at the unique skills some animals have. Using something called mechatronics -- mechanical and electrical engineering combined with computer ...
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Overview

Innovations in the world of robotics are multiplying, with many cutting-edge breakthroughs, and this exciting and timely new book for young readers explores one particularly intriguing area: the world of robo-animals, or zoobots. In an attempt to design robots that can solve problems or perform tasks that humans can't, or just can't do easily, roboticists have been looking at the unique skills some animals have. Using something called mechatronics -- mechanical and electrical engineering combined with computer science -- they are finding ways to closely mirror those skills in robot form. Some fascinating examples from the book of what zoobots can do include: finding survivors of a fire using sensitive, computerized "whiskers"; scaling skyscraper walls using super stickiness; or delivering drugs deep within the human body using microscopic whiptails for locomotion. Twelve zoobots are described, each on its own two-page spread.
Award-winning children's author Helaine Becker's text is comprehensive, yet clear and lively, and is made more manageable by being broken up into shorter segments. The futuristic design of the book includes vivid, detailed color illustrations by Alex Ries, of both the zoobot prototypes as well as the animals from which their skills were derived. This imaginative and interesting nonfiction book will definitely capture the imaginations of technology buffs. It also has enormous potential for classroom use in exploring everything from basic technology and robots, to engineering concepts, to inventions. A glossary and an index make it work well as a wonderful reference tool.
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
04/01/2014
Gr 3–6—Twelve futuristic robots are introduced on spreads. Each one is given a name, team, realm, super skill, specifications, and applications. Also included are the animal that inspired the bot and its special ops. The status for all is either working prototype or prototype in development, making this a soon-to-be dated title. But the idea behind the book is a fascinating one. For example, the Ghostbot evolved from observations of the black ghost knifefish. The bot mimics the real fish's fluttering fin to achieve incredible flexibility. Its planned purpose is to be an all-powerful surveillance tool that can hover over rough terrain underwater. On each spread, white text is set on a black background. Illustrations are large, colorful, and appealing, and the glossary and index are extensive. While brevity rules here, the cover and content will find an audience among young robotics enthusiasts. For interested browsers.—Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI
Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-08
Becker introduces a handful of "zoobots," mechanical contrivances inspired by creatures from the animal kingdom. This is a not-altogether-surprising collection of robotic tools serving a variety of tasks that humans may not be able to do or would rather not do even if they were able. The machines are touted as the "creepiest, crawliest" creatures, but in fact, it is the natural animals that the robots evolved from that rate the "downright weirdest" label: the black ghost knifefish, the Etruscan pygmy shrew and, of course, the snake. Becker provides specifications, applications, inspirations from the animal kingdom and "special operations": how they actually might work. The Octobot, for instance, is a silicone-covered cabled "tentacle" that can flex and tighten. While Ries' artwork is suitably futuristic—and the design features lots of black, signaling an intergalactic milieu—only a few of the robots really pack much wow; the fact that none has moved past prototype stage is a bit deflating. The bots can be used for military applications, crawling through fire, reaching nooks inaccessible to humans, fixing deep-sea oil spills, monitoring pollution and, of course, surveillance. Though the premise is cool, what's delivered is too short on the shock, mind-boggling and bizarre-originality factors. (Picture book. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554539710
  • Publisher: Kids Can Press, Limited
  • Publication date: 4/1/2014
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 331,004
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Helaine Becker is an award-winning children's author. She has written over 40 books, including the bestselling Looney Bay All-Stars series. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.
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