Miniature creatures performing extraordinary feats with limited resources.

The Dlife project, funded by HFSP, will provide an unprecedented insight into how different behavioral strategies, sensory information, structural and mechanical features, and neural mechanisms interact to create complex versatile behaviors such as locomotion, food transport, navigation and their combination in miniature systems, like dung beetles.

We will test hypotheses derived from behavioral and biomechanical data on a biorobotic model. Our results will also lead to a novel bio-inspired robotic technology for achieving multiple robotic functions and solving complex motor control problems of systems with many degrees of freedom.


Our international and interdisciplinary research team will tackle fundamental research questions in behavioral biology, biomechanics, computational neuroscience and robotics such as:

How do miniature biological legged systems organize and select the motor patterns necessary for expressing their vast and complex behavioral repertoire?

How do they compensate for the variation caused by different locomotory modes and unstable terrain when navigating? ‚Äč

What physical design features allow them to exhibit multimodal motor functions?

How can such an achievement can be realized on artificial systems?

We aim to answer these questions using a combination of behavioral experiments, biophysical, kinematic and biomechanical analyses, and the development of a robotic dung beetle model.

The robotic model will enable us to test hypotheses about the relationship between structural and mechanical features and how these interact with motor patterns and neural mechanisms to form complex behavior.