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Aug 14, 2022

Curved space robot defies known laws of physics

Posted by in categories: physics, robotics/AI, space

Functioning in curved space, the robot heralds new space locomotive technology possibilities without the use of propellants.


A robot engineered at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) has done the unthinkable and flouted a steadfast law of motion, suggesting that new laws need to be defined. Such new principles may have applications in new forms of locomotion without propellants.

We’ve all seen the hilarious slapstick gag where the unwitting individual steps on a banana peel, landing comically on their rump. It may not seem like it, but the quip relies on the fact that human locomotion, like all locomotion, is based on Newton’s third law of motion.

Newton’s third law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, when a human takes a step, we push against the Earth and the Earth pushes back, propelling us forward. But this only works thanks to friction. Without friction (or with minimal friction, for example, when there is a slimy banana peel on the ground) there is no push – we just slide straight over the ground and can’t move forward, falling unceremoniously back to Earth.

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