I think there are two best things about working with robots. The first is that working with robots means working with lots of other scientists in other fields. So I get to work with ant biologists, animal ethologists, evolutionary biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, social scientists – and philosophers. I can’t tell you how fantastic this is – it means that I work with all sorts of people that engineers wouldn’t normally work with. And this has opened my eyes to all sorts of new scientific questions – and given me a completely new perspective on robotics.
The second best thing (which sort of follows on from the first), is that working with robots has made me really appreciate the astonishing power of evolution. The designs that evolution has come up with are remarkable and way way beyond anything that we can build. A famous scientist once called robots “An Imitation of Life”. While I think that’s true, the best imitations of life that we can come up with so far are very very simple and very crude compared with the real thing.