Nature remains the realm where scientists delve for inspiration for their newest robotic creations.
This time, a team of researchers from Harvard University and Seoul National University looked at the water-creeping strider for inspiration that led to the creation of a micro-bot perfectly mimicking the functioning of the insect.
As the water strider, the micro-bot floats on the surface of the water and leaps across it without a splash. Silent and inconspicuous, the water strider micro-bot is a success story for the international team.
The minuscule body of the robot is sustained by elongated legs that, as the water strider’s are curved at the ending, thus keeping the bot afloat. Making use of the legs, the micro-bot exercise a force that is 16 times that of its tiny body in order to hop on the water surface.
It’s quite possible that if we saw one of these bots on the surface of a lake we wouldn’t tell the difference between the water strider and its robot relative. It is so tiny that it weighs two-thousandths of one ounce. The micro-bot is only three fourths of an inch in length, but the force it can exercise is impressive.
According to Kyu Jin Cho, lead researcher on the project:
“Water’s surface needs to be pressed at the right speed for an adequate amount of time, up to a certain depth, in order to achieve jumping. The water strider is capable of doing all these things flawlessly”.
Another lead researcher for the development of the robotic water strider and founder of the Harvard microbiotics laboratory, Robert Wood, stated:
“If you apply as much force as quickly as possible on water, the limbs will break through the surface and you won’t get anywhere”.
As such, the team carefully calculated the time needed for water contact in relation to the jump and the force the micro-bot exercise in order to leap on the water surface. It seems that leg contact with the water surface is the key factor for successful jumping across the water.
The water strider bot is among the few spearheading robotic locomotion, particularly on liquid environments. Take a small army of these and any search operation on water could greatly benefit from their capabilities.
Photo Credits: Kinja