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First robot that mimics the water striders' jumping abilities

Date:
July 26, 2012
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
The first bio-inspired microrobot capable of not just walking on water like the water strider -- but continuously jumping up and down like a real water strider -- now is a reality. Scientists have developed the agile microrobot which could use its jumping ability to avoid obstacles on reconnaissance or other missions.
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The first bio-inspired microrobot capable of not just walking on water like the water strider – but continuously jumping up and down like a real water strider – now is a reality.
Credit: Image courtesy of American Chemical Society

The first bio-inspired microrobot capable of not just walking on water like the water strider -- but continuously jumping up and down like a real water strider -- now is a reality. Scientists reported development of the agile microrobot, which could use its jumping ability to avoid obstacles on reconnaissance or other missions, in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Qinmin Pan and colleagues 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. However, even the most advanced designs -- including one from Pan's team last year -- can only walk on water. Pan notes that real water striders actually leap. 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.

The authors acknowledge funding from the State Key Laboratory of Robotics and System of Harbin Institute of Technology and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jie Zhao, Xinbin Zhang, Ning Chen, Qinmin Pan. Why Superhydrophobicity Is Crucial for a Water-Jumping Microrobot? Experimental and Theoretical Investigations. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2012; 4 (7): 3706 DOI: 10.1021/am300794z

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American Chemical Society. "First robot that mimics the water striders' jumping abilities." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120726153955.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2012, July 26). First robot that mimics the water striders' jumping abilities. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 3, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120726153955.htm
American Chemical Society. "First robot that mimics the water striders' jumping abilities." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120726153955.htm (accessed August 3, 2015).

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