July 27, 2012
Robot Mimics Water Striders' Jumping Abilities
|Scientists are reporting development of a new aquatic microrobot that mimics the amazing water-walking abilities of the water strider. The bionic microrobot incorporates improvements over previous devices of this kind that position it as a prime candidate for military spy missions and other applications.|
Qinmin Pan and colleagues at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China explain that scientists have reported a number of advances toward tiny robots that can walk on water. Such robots could skim across lakes and other bodies of water to monitor water quality or act as tiny spies. Unlike a similar water strider robot developed at Carnegie Mellon university, Pan notes that real water striders actually leap.
Video of the robot in action can be viewed here.
Making a jumping robot is difficult because the downward force needed to propel it into the air usually pushes the legs through the water's surface. Pan's group looked for novel mechanisms and materials to build a true water-striding robot.
Using porous, super water-repellant nickel foam to fabricate the three supporting and two jumping legs, the group made a robot that could leap more than 5.5 inches, despite weighing as much as 1,100 water striders.
In experiments, the robot could jump nearly 14 inches forward -- more than twice its own length -- leaving the water at about 3.6 miles per hour. The authors report that the ability to leap will make the bio-inspired microrobot more agile and better able to avoid obstacles it encounters on the water's surface.
Water-walking robots have been developed in the past with the aim of monitoring water supplies, and conducting military spy missions, until now no one has been able to make a robot which is cheap, practical and agile enough. With Pan's the new robot, the ability to support more than twice its body weight, it can be easily equipped with a miniature camera.
SOURCE Science Daily
|By 33rd Square||Subscribe to 33rd Square|
Tags: bioinspiration, Harbin Institute of Technology, jumping robot, Quinmin Pan, robotics, robots, spy robot, water strider robot
33rd Square explores technological progress in AI, robotics, genomics, neuroscience, nanotechnology, art, design and the future as humanity encroaches on The Singularity.