Tiny Robot Walks on Water by Mimicking Nature
CREDIT: American Chemical Society
Walking on water may not require a divine miracle if Mother Nature has already done most of the engineering work. A new aquatic microrobot has done just that in a new video by imitating the long-legged water striders that scoot across the surface of ponds and lakes.
The robot propels its tiny body across the water with two oar-like legs powered by miniature motors, but manages to stay afloat because of 10 water-repellent wire legs. Such water-walking power on display means that it could be sent out with cameras to conduct military spy missions, or to monitor waterways for pollution.
"Walking on the water surface is a dream of humans, but it is exactly the way of life for some aquatic insects," said Qinmin Pan and colleagues at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China.
That success comes despite the microrobot weighing about the same as 390 water strider insects (its body is the size of a U.S. quarter). Still, the robot can stand, turn and walk without any troubles on the surface of the water.
The insect-imitation approach could allow humans to develop robotic skills in other areas as well. The Pentagon's DARPA has called for future drones capable of insect vision and response times to avoid midair collisions in crowded skies.