Micro-robot walks on water

Mechanical 'water strider' candidate for monitoring water pollution or espionage.

Comments Off on Micro-robot walks on water July 28, 2011
by Design Engineering Staff

If you were thinking that your next camping or fishing trip would be free from foreign espionage, think again. Scientists at the State Key Laboratory of Robotics of the Harbin Institute of Technology in China have developed an aquatic micro-robot that can stand and maneuver on water like the common water strider insect. The researchers say the robot incorporates improvements over similar robots that make it more agile and cheaper to make opening the possibility for it to monitor water pollution or perform military spy missions when equipped with a camera.

About the size of a quarter, the mechanical insect “walks” on 10 superhydrophobic wire legs that repel water and keep it from sinking. Two miniature DC motors power a pair of oar-like legs to turn and propel the robot across the water surface. In a study featured in the journal, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, the scientists note that their micro-robot weighs the same as 390 water striders but is still agile enough to be maneuvered predictably.