Bionic microrobot mimics the 'water strider' and walks on water (w/ Video)

July 27, 2011
Bionic microrobot mimics the 'water strider' and walks on water (w/ Video)

Scientists are reporting development of a new aquatic microrobot that mimics the amazing water-walking abilities of the water strider — the long-legged insect that scoots across the surface of ponds, lakes and other waterways. The bionic microrobot incorporates improvements over previous devices of this kind that position it as a prime candidate for military spy missions, water pollution monitoring, and other applications, the scientists say. Their study appears in the journal, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

"Walking on the surface is a dream of humans, but it is exactly the way of life for some aquatic insects," Qinmin Pan and colleagues note, citing water striders, mosquitoes, and water spiders. This is due largely to their highly water-repellent (superhydrophobic) legs. Other scientists have made tiny aquatic devices based on the with the hope of developing bionic robots that can monitor water supplies, conduct military spy missions when equipped with a camera, and perform other tasks. But until now, no one has found a way to make water-walking robots that are practical, agile, and inexpensive.

The video will load shortly

The scientists describe progress on a new robot, with a body about the size of a quarter; ten water-repellent, wire legs; and two movable, oar-like legs — propelled by two miniature motors. "Because the weight of the is equal to that of about 390 water striders, one might expect that it will sink quickly when placed on the water surface," the report noted. However, it stands effortlessly on water surfaces and also walks and turns freely.

Explore further: Solving another mystery of an amazing water walker

More information: ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2011, 3 (7), pp 2630–2636 DOI: 10.1021/am200382g

Related Stories

Solving another mystery of an amazing water walker

December 10, 2007

Walking on water may seem like a miracle to humans, but it is a ho-hum for the water strider and scientists who already solved the mystery of that amazing ability. Now researchers in Korea are reporting a long-sought explanation ...

Bouncing water droplets reveal small-scale beauty (w/ Video)

October 14, 2010

In the video below, scientists have captured the simple movements of water droplets on a superhydrophobic carbon nanotube surface. The video shows the water droplets as they bounce, slide, and roll across different structures ...

Recommended for you

Your (social media) votes matter

January 24, 2017

When Tim Weninger conducted two large-scale experiments on Reddit - otherwise known as "the front page of the internet" - back in 2014, the goal was to better understand the ripple effects of malicious voting behavior and ...

Protective wear inspired by fish scales

January 24, 2017

They started with striped bass. Over a two-year period the researchers went through about 50 bass, puncturing or fracturing hundreds of fish scales under the microscope, to try to understand their properties and mechanics ...

'Droneboarding' takes off in Latvia

January 22, 2017

Skirted on all sides by snow-clad pine forests, Latvia's remote Lake Ninieris would be the perfect picture of winter tranquility—were it not for the huge drone buzzing like a swarm of angry bees as it zooms above the solid ...

Singapore 2G switchoff highlights digital divide

January 22, 2017

When Singapore pulls the plug on its 2G mobile phone network this year, thousands of people could be stuck without a signal—digital have-nots left behind by the relentless march of technology.

Making AI systems that see the world as humans do

January 19, 2017

A Northwestern University team developed a new computational model that performs at human levels on a standard intelligence test. This work is an important step toward making artificial intelligence systems that see and understand ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.