As budget axes begin to fall, lines grow at airports and federal employees prepare for furlough days, one taxpayer-funded project has emerged unscathed: the robosquirrel, a $325,000 experimental biorobotic animal, which will continue to receive its funding from the National Science Foundation as scheduled.
The robosquirrel’s funding is enough to pay for 112 furlough days, according to an estimate by Sen. Tom Coburn’s office, which calculated each furlough at $2,900.
The National Science Foundation said last week the sequester would have no impact on its existing grants. Instead, NSF will reduce the number of new grants by about 1,000.
The same investigators that developed the robosquirrel are also using their grant to develop a robotic kangaroo rat. The project, led by investigators Rulon Clark and Sanjay Joshi at the San Diego State University Foundation, is described as “understanding predator-prey signaling interactions: the dynamics of antisnake displays in ground squirrels and kangaroo rats.”