Sloths and robotics seem to conceptually occupy antithetical spaces. Robotics is futuristic and fast-paced, while the sloth is slow-moving and gladly sedentary. However, when it comes to environmental monitoring, the latter is the ideal approach for long-term, unobtrusive research. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology created Slothbot in 2019, headed by Graduate Research Assistant Gennaro Notomista and his colleague, Yousef Emam. The Slothbot is designed to hang from a cable, wire, or, hopefully in the future, a tree branch, and continually monitor the environment in which it is placed, measuring temperature, humidity, or taking photographs and videos. It hangs down, as a sloth would, with a small robotic “arm” holding the weight of the robot. Two bodies, connected with a hinge (almost like the head and torso) hold a motor connected to a wheel or tire that can glide along a wire when prompted.  Unlike larger, more agile robots, Slothbot is designed to stay in place and monitor continuously for a long period of time, only moving when absolutely necessary. The advantage of this approach is that the Slothbot consumes very little energy from its photovoltaic cell, and could hang in any given environment for a long time. Right now, the Slothbot is being tested at Atlanta’s Botanical Garden, and could later be sent to Costa Rica to monitor their namesake, the sloth. Slothbot is still being tested, and questions remain about how it will interact with living organisms or function in a more complex environment.

Newton, Mark. “Sloth-inspired robot takes slow and steady approach to environmental monitoring.” Reset, December 6, 2019.

G. Notomista, Y. Emam and M. Egerstedt, “The SlothBot: A Novel Design for a Wire-Traversing Robot,” in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 1993-1998, April 2019, doi: 10.1109/LRA.2019.2899593.


Data, Ecological Monitoring, Monitoring, Regulation