By Andy Choi
In another case of a robot mimicking nature, there is a new ‘insect-bot’ in China that can walk on water like mosquitoes and water spiders. These water striders provided more than inspiration for the miniature robot, they provided actual design ideas.
Qinmin Pan said that walking on the water surface is a dream of humans, but it is a way of life for some aquatic insects. Surface living animals such as the water strider typically have hydrophobic feet covered in small hairs that prevent the feet from breaking the surface and becoming wet. That helps them to repel water and also gives them a larger surface area over which they can spread their weight. They display their agility by scooting over lakes or larger water bodies at pretty impressive speeds.
The aquatic insect-bot, that the Chinese researchers have come up with, also has this same remarkable ability. The miniature device has a water striding ability and is in fact faster and more agile than insects despite weighing as much as 390 times more than them.
The possibilities of it becoming a military spy for water missions are quite high on the list of potential applications. The micro robot can also be used to monitor water pollution or supply and other civilian friendly applications as per the Chinese scientists. The study was funded by the Harbin Institute of Technology and the Natural Science Foundation of China.