A team of Korean engineers and roboticists has created the first mecha water strider. The water strider is semi-aquatic insect whose legs has evolved curved tips. This feature allows the insect to jump off the water’s surface.
Professor Ho-Young Kim, co-senior of the project, collected a number of water striders and examined their movement to discover the exact movement of the legs that practically helps them walk on water. The team found that, in order to maximize the jump distance, it is ideal that the insect maintain leg contact on the water as much as possible during its jump attempt.
The leader of the team, Je-Sung Koh, and his partners designed the little robot to match the exact features of the water strider. The robot balances on water and leaps using just a little bit more force than the one in the water’s natural surface tension. This prototype can jump 16 times higher than its own body weight and with little to no effort.
So how does the little guy actually work? It was designed with a lightweight catapult mechanism that practically uses a small burst and thrust to jump off the water. The process does not break the water’s surface, so you can imagine how quickly everything happens!
“The resulting robotic insects can achieve the same momentum and height that could be generated during a rapid jump on firm ground – but instead can do so on water – by spreading out the jumping thrust over a longer amount of time and in sustaining prolonged contact with the water’s surface.”
This was the exciting statement that was voiced by co-author Robert Wood as he was describing the experiment and its results.
Other scientists, such as Dominic Vella from the University of Oxford, commended the experiment and said that the result is “strikingly similar to a real jumping water strider” in an article published in Science.
Needless to say, the creation of this prototype is further evidence that the field of robotics is making good progress. Designing such a robot is not an easy task and its design might help other significant projects in the near future.
Photo Credits transit-port.net