Parallel Evolution. Orthogonal Evolution.

I heard this Ted talk recently where someone was (If I got this right) theorising about life on Mars (or at least Phobos or wherever) being recognisable in certain respects, because given certain environmental conditions certain patterns tend to recur… sharks, dolphins, jets etc… that sort of thing.

So being interested in memetics as well, I am kindof interested in Parallel Evolution… and get fixated on certain basic designs.

Is it me or are there are a lot of hexapods about? Someone’s really thrown some money at this one:

from botjunkie

Nasa apparently.

There are a couple more that I hadn’t seen before at this rather fabulous collection of photographs from The Big Picture.


I’m not sure what bit of parallelism is being… parallelified here. Technically these things are insects – although they’re a bit more like crabs… but I’m not sure they’re either… or if the design IS actually springing out of an adaptation from any specific set of environmental conditions. I think maybe they look like crabs or tanks or people because… well, that’s just a cool thing for them to look like.

At the bottom of it all I have a feeling that the fundamental robotic muscle component is wrong. Servos are a little too slow and a little too noisy. They’re good for what they’re good for, but they’re never going to be able to compete with proper cockroaches. A real cockroach is an unbelievable piece of engineering. A real spider? Brrr…