"Humans can run, but frankly our capabilities are nothing compared to what insects and some other animals can do," said John Schmitt, an assistant professor in the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Oregon State University. "Cockroaches are incredible. They can run fast, turn on a dime, move easily over rough terrain, and react to perturbations faster than a nerve impulse can travel."
Within certain limitations, Schmitt said, cockroaches don't even have to think about running - they just do it, with muscle action that is instinctive and doesn't require reflex control. That, in fact, is part of what the engineers are trying to achieve. If successful, Schmitt said, running robots could serve valuable roles in difficult jobs, such as military operations, law enforcement or space exploration.