The insect-inspired machine is about 1,000 times lighter than previous aerial-aquatic bots. The new robot that can move between air and water is a lightweight.
Weighing the same as about six grains of rice, it is the lightest robot that can fly, swim and launch itself from water, an international team of researchers reports October 25 in Science Robotics. The bot is about 1,000 times lighter than other previously developed aerial-aquatic robots. In the future, this kind of aquatic flier could be used to perform search-and-rescue operations, sample water quality or simply explore by air or sea.
To hover, the bot flaps its translucent wings 220 to 300 times per second, somewhat faster than a housefly. Once submerged, the tiny robot surfaces by slowly flapping its wings at about nine beats per second to maintain stability underwater.
Still, the design needs work: The machine doesn’t land well, and it can only pierce the water’s surface with the help of soap, which lowers the surface tension. More importantly, the experiment points to the possibilities of incorporating different forms of locomotion into a single robot.
|Insect-inspired robot travels by air and water | Science News|