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When people or animals get hurt, they can usually compensate for minor injuries and keep limping along, but for robots, even slight damage can make them stumble and fall. Now a robot scarcely larger than a human hand has demonstrated a novel ability. It can recover from damage. It is an innovation that could make robots more independent. The new robot, which looks like a splay-legged, four-footed deduces the shape of its own body by performing a series of playful movements, swivelling its four limbs. By using sensors to record resulting changes in the angle of its body, it gradually generates a computerized image of itself. The robot then uses this to plan out how to walk forward. The researchers hope similar robots will someday respond not only to damage to their own bodies but also to changes in the surrounding environment.