A team of researchers have developed a tiny robot that can jump on water, similar to the water strider, a small insect that bounces on lakes and ponds.
The team was comprised of world class scientists from Harvard University and the University of Seoul and they closely analyzed the movement and the complex jumping process displayed by the water strider insect, so that they could apply all the small details into constructing a mini robot, the size of an actual water strider.
They used highly specialized cameras to be able to observe all the small details related to the insect and then they came up with ways to translate these features into the tiny robot. Ultimately, they managed to create a minute robot, which has a 2 cm long body and 5 cm long legs and that can jump a whopping 14,2 cm up in the air from the water surface employing a technique called torque reversal catapult. They even replicated the long but thin legs of the water strider, in shape, size and abilities and they built the body of the robot respecting the bogy-legs weight/size ratio of the real insect.
As for the use of the robotic water strider, it seems that the scientists never got that far as they were absorbed by all that the development process involved. They basically wanted to test their own limits and find out whether or not they could actually build such a small robot that could perform the task of jumping on water . And only now when they have, they realize its true potential.
It seems that quite a few people associated their small water strider robot with the creepy spider-like robots from the 2002 film “Minority report” that were out to get Tom Cruise’s character, John Anderton. The researchers were amused by the association and explained to everybody that putting their small robot to such uses is clearly not in their plans.
“We did not have much intention to put this robot in a market for those who are looking for surveillance robots in near future,” explained the team of researchers. “Of course, we do not want the robots to be used by bad people.”
They got their inspiration for this project from observing nature, as it is filled with a great many ideas that could fuel countless research projects. This is why they explained that their intention is to build upon this model, so that it could be perfected. At the moment, the water strider robotic mini-me can jump on water, but its makers intend to make it swim as well and to perform more complex moves and tasks.
The findings of their research project were published in the scientific journal Science and was met with great enthusiasm by the scientific community. It remains to be seen what other amazing tasks the upgraded version will be able to perform.
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