Surfing Robot is one of the breakthrough of modern technology. As humans are always seeking for a better way to harness nature to make the world a comfortable place. Innovation has been the utmost priority of engineers to make a better use of the physical universe. These innovation includes both the bird in the air and the aquatic animals. With constant research and innovations new technologies emerge regularly that are essential to improve our standard of living. 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.
Engineers from the Michigan Technological University have created a tiny, self-powered robot inspired by water-skimming insects.
One may think that water strider biological organisms such as insects, arachnids, and even bacteria move across the water’s surface simply by wiggling their legs, but they actually utilize what is known as the Marangoni effect. The Marangoni effect takes place when there is a gradient of surface tension at the interface between two phases – in most situations, a liquid-gas interface.
Motivated by the superb capability of these organisms, researchers conceptualized and created a self-powered and remotely controlled robot that relies solely on the Marangoni effect for both propulsion and change of direction.
The surfing robot can not only stand atop the free surface of the water but can also use Marangoni propulsion for locomotion and maneuverability through a controlled release of isopropyl alcohol (IPA).
Engineers developed custom-made flow control and steering mechanisms. These features complement integrated power and fuel sources, a remote transmitter, a receiver, and two servos, resulting in a non-tethered robotic surfer with unparalleled functionality. The integrated technology in the surfing robot eliminates complicated and undesirable features such as noisy engines or propellers that can disrupt or harm sea life. This means fewer disturbances are introduced into the bulk of the liquid, reducing the drag and making the robot more like the insects it mimics while having the additional benefit of being virtually silent in operation.
This silent, water-striding robot measures about 110 mm in length and can travel as fast as 0.8 body length per second. Currently, the robot can achieve speeds of about 100 millimeters per second with a fuel efficiency of about 600 millimeters per milliliter of propellant fuel.
The team is currently working on implementing new and alternative designs and propellants to achieve greater speeds and higher fuel efficiency. They hope that the technology could one day find use in applications such as wildlife observation or environmental monitoring in difficult-to-access locations.