We explain how the scientific study of biological systems offers a complementary approach to the more formal analytic methods favored by roboticists; such study is also relevant to a number of classical problems addressed by the AI field. We offer an example of the scientific approach that is based on a selection of our experiments and empirically driven theoretical work on human haptic (tactual) object processing; the nature and role of active manual exploration is of particular concern. We further suggest how this program with humans can be modified and extended to guide the development of high-level manual exploration strategies for robots equipped with a haptic perceptual system. Consider the range of work that is being carried out on artificially and naturally intelligent systems and allow us to describe its domain in the broadest sense by including not just thinking but sensing and perceiving, thinking, and motor actions on the environment. We argue that the scientific study of biological systems offers an approach to the development of sensor-based robots that's complementary to the more formal analytic methods favored by roboticists.