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Robotic clam digs in mudflats

Date:
November 25, 2009
Source:
American Institute of Physics
Summary:
To design a lightweight anchor that can dig itself in to hold small underwater submersibles, Anette Hosoi of MIT borrowed techniques from one of nature's best diggers -- the razor clam.

To design a lightweight anchor that can dig itself in to hold small underwater submersibles, Anette (Peko) Hosoi of MIT borrowed techniques from one of nature's best diggers -- the razor clam.

"The best anchoring technology out there is an order or magnitude worse than the clam -- most are two or three orders worse," says Hosoi, whose group is presenting this work at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society's (APS) Division of Fluid Dynamics will take place from November 22-24 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Using relatively simple anatomy, the bivalve burrows into the bottom of its native mudflats at a rate of a centimeter per second. Hosoi's studies of the physics behind this remarkable ability have revealed that the digging is accomplished in two motions -- a push upwards with its foot, which mixes the grains of solid into the liquid above, and a synchronized push down.

By borrowing this principle, Hosoi and graduate student Amos Winter have created a simple robot that is now being tested out in the salt water mudflats off of Cape Cod. It digs just as fast as the living clam and is "small, lightweight, and does not use a lot of energy," says Hosoi.

The robot is operated electronically via a tether and is made to open and close via pressured air from a scuba tank.

The presentation, "The design, testing, and performance of RoboClam, a robot inspired by the burrowing mechanisms of Atlantic razor clam (Ensis directus)" by Amos Winter et al of MIT is on November 22, 2009.


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The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics. "Robotic clam digs in mudflats." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091122161746.htm>.
American Institute of Physics. (2009, November 25). Robotic clam digs in mudflats. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091122161746.htm
American Institute of Physics. "Robotic clam digs in mudflats." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091122161746.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

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