If you’ve ever seen a water strider do its thing, you will definitely be impressed with the new robot that can jump on water created by Je-Sung Koh from the Seoul National University and his colleagues.
Inspired from the amazing abilities that Mother Nature has equipped the water strider with, the team has come up with a robot that doesn’t sink due to the thin and long legs that help distribute the insect’s weight over a larger surface.
Researchers were surprised to see that the long-legged robot was even better at jumping on water than on the ground, which can be a result of having lower vibration levels in the on water, which leads to a higher amount of kinetic energy.
It’s fascinating to see and understand how the ‘miracle’ of walking on water happens: when the spring releases for a jump, it also pressures the robot’s long legs downward, but just to the point where they don’t break the water surface.
Previous experiments weren’t as successful in mimicking the water strider’s abilities – the Waterloo robot, for example, had wide paddles helping it jump, and it weighed a thousand times more than its biological counterpart.
An important breakthrough in achieving the walking-on-water effect was to observe how having long legs helped the bug to accelerate gradually and not all at once, keeping close contact with the surface of the water.
There are many complex jumping mechanisms in nature, and scientists around the world try to understand how they can copy and replicate them in an artificial way. Observing the water strider in its natural environment, researchers noticed how it sweeps its legs inward, which helps it make the most of the time it can push its legs against the surface.
Another robot was designed by a Seoul National University and Harvard team, where Ho-Young Kim and Kyu Jin Cho were the leading professors. This jumping robot, however, is semi-aquatic, because it can also skim along the water’s surface.
Walking on water is surely impressive, but jumping on water requires a whole new set of abilities. For the body of the robotic insect, researchers used “pop-up” manufacturing, building folded structures that work much like “pop-up” books.
Creating this supernatural fitness was backed up by the Wyss Institute, the National Research Foundation of Korea, and the Defense Acquisition Program Administration’s Bio-Mimetic Robot Research Center.
Image Source: Gizmag