C 1 Source Acquisition

Assignment: Source Acquisition (I=0.1)

Identify and document some exciting and useful animal capability that continues to elude robotics. By citing some appropriate scientific literature, support the argument that the desired capability has indeed not been (completely) achieved in robotics and that there is animal expertise to be mined. Defend the quality of your major source(s) of authority regarding the capability and of the key supporting literature.


The simplest way to do this would be to find a paper in the refereed bioinspired robotics that discusses the authors’ efforts to develop such a capability. However, it would be equally appropriate to identify on your own some useful capability that robots lack that can be found in the world of biology, so long as you are able to muster the required documentation.

This is the first opportunity in the class to become acquainted with a particular set of locomotion capabilities in machines and animals. Hopefully, the background reading you do here will shape the group project you participate in and possibly motivate you to work up a bit of a self-tutorial effort on some technical aspects of the material that you think are important but found very hard to understand.

The rubric below will specify that you are asked to find one recent paper delving into bioinspired robotics to focus on for this assignment. Similarly, you are asked to find four papers (two from biology, two from robotics) to support this one. Don't read these four papers in great detail yet. Just review abstracts and skim the paper to the point where you are confident it supports the claims in your primary paper. Note, all communications assignments are to be completed on this wiki. Check the Help section for notes on how to use the wiki and how to use references.

Evaluation Rubric

General Quality:

C.1.0) Source

Identify one recent paper relating to bioinspired robotics that stimulates your interests. Cite it appropriately, using the References format found in the Wiki.

C.1.1) Venue

Provide evidence that defends the quality of the venue(s) of the article(s) you are using to make the major claim.

C.1.2) Authors

Provide evidence that supports the reliability of the authors of the major article(s).

C.1.3) Source Identification Methods

Describe Librarian consultation on your search methods and describe your response to the advice.


In all of these categories, you are being asked to find and cite recent, high quality papers. We will interpret "recent" as meaning "being published within the last five years." However, it may often be the case that certain older papers are obviously of higher quality than anything written more recently (generally this is a sign that an area of inquiry is ripe for a new effort) and it is fine to relax the criterion of "recent" in favor of quality - so long as we can document that the older work is indeed far superior anything more recent.

C.1.4) High Quality Bioinspired Robotics Contribution

At least one high quality recent source from the bioinspired robotics literature: what is the problem or capability that animals possess with which we do not know yet how to endow our robots?

C.1.5) General Robotics Literature

Two recent Claims-Checking Quality Sources from Robotics Literature: which investigators have tried to develop the capability and why/how have they fallen short?

C.1.6) Biology Literature

Two recent Fact-Checking Quality Sources from the Biology Literature: what are the animals’ capabilities in these areas and how are they relevant to machine builders’ needs?


  • Mandatory Consultation with Librarian: 1/20 – 1/27
  • Submission of Draft to Class Wiki: 1/27
  • Scoring of Mechanics (Librarian scores C.1.1 – C.1.3; Technical Staff scores C.1.3 – C.1.6)
  • Scores and comments from graders available to be read on Google Docs private pages by 2/10

Submitting to the Wiki

  • Create your assignment page for this communications assignment by inserting a blank link into your User page
    • The c1 variable is already there, we just need a link to the C.1 assignment
    • Following |c1=, enter a link to your page using the following convention:
[[[Lastname:C.1 Source Acquisition]]]
  • We recommend taking a look at Professor Koditschek's example assignment to help you with formatting and wiki conventions.
    • Remember, you can edit other people's pages! That means if you see something in the wiki you like (a pretty table, a well formatted page, a cool trick with a picture), you can just edit the page and copy that piece of code back to your page.
    • Editing other students' pages without their permission or consent is prohibited.
    • Here's a quick link to Professor Koditschek's C.1 Source Acquisition.