Engineers from Michigan Technological University have built a minuscule, self-powered robot that is based on water-skimming insects.
The robots are designed to replicate one of the critical skills water surfers have: the ability to manipulate the water’s surface tension.
According to Hassan Masoud, one of the experts in bio-inspired fluid mechanics at Michigan Tech:
“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. 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 robot works by taking advantage of the Marangoni effect to create propulsion, allowing the robot to move by creating surface tension gradients on the water.
Check out a video of the surfer robots below.