Robotics development remains deeply entwined with the fascinating mechanisms at work in nature.
The latest example comes from a joint research team of the University of Harvard and the National University of Seoul, that brought into existence a tiny, yet highly performant bot that mimics a water strider to perfection.
Water strider are those spider-looking insects which are typically seen on water surfaces, moving rapidly from one spot to another, not by walking, but by jumping.
The tiny robotic mechanism developed by the researchers sports elongated wire legs, curved at the ends to provide the bot the support it needs to not sink. As the curved endings help it to remain afloat, they also play a key role in a successful jumping motion.
Using the legs, the micro robot exercises a force 16 times the weight of its body, thus hopping on the surface of the water silently and without one splash.
“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”,
explained lead researcher on the project, Kyu Jin Cho.
The total weight of the micro robot is less than one ounce. In fact, it weighs two-thousandths of an ounce. The micro robot is three fourths of an inch long.
Adding to the explanation, Professor Robert Wood who is the founder of the Harvard microbiotics laboratory commented:
“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”.
Perfectly mimicking the water strider, the micro robot developed by the joint research team is one of the few that successfully accomplish locomotion. Particularly on liquid surfaces, getting robots to move by walking or jumping is a difficult task.
Photo Credits: student.societyforscience.org