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Surfer Robots Look and Move Like Water Bugs

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surfing robot, illustration

The 110-mm robot can travel as fast as 0.8 body length per second.

Credit: Michigan Technological University

Hassan Masoud and Mitch Timm at Michigan Technological University and a team of roboticists have built a tiny, self-powered robot inspired by water-skimming insects.

"Bio-inspired robotic technologies push the boundaries of what we think is possible when it comes to traveling on land, in the air, and underwater," Masoud says. "Yet few robots focus on the air-water interface. Many biological organisms such as insects, arachnids and even bacteria have the ability to stand upon this boundary by taking advantage of surface tension."

The team built a robot that manipulates surface tension to propel itself across a liquid surface with great speed and maneuverability. They describe their work in "A Remotely Controlled Marangoni Surfer," published in Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.

Masoud and Timm detail how their robot uses Marangoni propulsion in a blog post.

From Michigan Technological University
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