Technology is truly a wonder, as often confirmed by scientists, and, now, their robotic water strider jumps without a problem or a splash on water to display just how far those advancements have stretched. The new robot insect has demonstrated how technology can copy the principles of nature, if helped by the proper amount of ingenuity.
Researchers from Seoul National University, Professor Ho-Young Kim and Professor Kyu-Jin Cho, have made a completely synthetic breed of a water strider, an insect that’s able to jump across the surface of calm waters, such as ponds or marshes. The ability alone fascinated the two researchers, who have managed to copy the subtle process.
With the use of high-speed cameras, they observed water striders in their natural environment, following their movements and the physics behind their fascinating water jumping. After ample observation, they theorized that water striders are able to use just the precise amount of force to propel themselves up, but lower than the force it takes to break water’s surface tension.
By developing a torque reversal catapult, they managed to simulate the same ability in their very own tiny version of an insect. This small little bot weighs two thousands of an inch (68 milligrams) and is three quarters of an inch in length (2 centimeters). It’s legs are almost two inches long (5 centimeters) that help propel itself off the water without a problem.
It can leap from the surface in the same fashion as a water strider, by mimicking the exact same process, only with precise mathematical calculations. When getting ready for a jump, the springs in the legs slowly releases, the body drags down and the legs push up with a gradually increasing force as to not break the water’s surface. It then retracts its legs inward to maximize the push and increase its momentum.
It can exert a force 16 times more than its own body weight, which makes for rather decent jumps on both waters and land.
The robotic water strider was never meant to be commercialized as is, according to the two researchers. Its purpose was to mainly explore new possibilities for a robot’s aquatic movement, now planning on creating others who might be able to swim or perform other functions in the water.
One purpose might be for future military surveillance missions that could require multiple insects moving across waters unseen, or to tackle the environmental issue of measuring water’s pollution in various ponds, lakes or swamps around the world. Whichever the case, there is a vast potential for future research in robotics and promising uses.
Image source: stuff.co.nz