Insect-inspired amphibious robot jumps like a water strider

Despite what our science fiction-fueled imaginations love to be entertained with, there is more to the field of modern robotics than colossal combat machines or bionic baristas. Some projects may seem mundane by comparison, yet the results are no less impressive, especially the ones that enlighten through the process. Although it took a few trial and error attempts, scientists have finally created an insect-inspired robot that can jump off of water’s surface.


Scientists at Seoul National University examine their robot’s extreme form of locomotion

Scientists from Seoul National University (SNU) and Harvard University have been studying how water strider insects are able jump off of water or ground with the same power and height. This is not the first time that researchers have looked to and emulated nature with robotics. We have complex quadrupeds that can run and jump over obstacles like an animal as well as insect-inspired robots that can move easily through fields of debris. Read more

Miniature car runs only on the power of evaporating water

Researchers have discovered an unlikely source of renewable energy, the naturally-occurring cycle that is water evaporation. Scientists at New York’s Columbia University replicated this process in the laboratory and harnessed its energy to power tiny machines, one of which was a moving, miniature car. The team says the technology could potentially to be scaled up to one day draw power from huge resting bodies of water such as bays and reservoirs.


Its size and top speed is unlikely to land it a role in the next Fast and the Furious, but a car powered by water evaporation is a promising development

The research stems from work carried out last year by Ozgur Sahin, associate professor of biological sciences and physics at Columbia University. Sahin had discovered that when bacterial spores shrink and swell as a result of changes in humidity, that motion could be used to move other objects. He drew inspiration from his finding that, pound for pound, these spores actually pack more energy than some materials already used for moving objects in engineering. Read more

The Drinkable Book has water-purifying pages

For people in developing nations or rural locations, getting clean water may soon be as simple as opening a book … and ripping a page out. That’s the idea behind The Drinkable Book, developed by Carnegie Mellon University postdoc Theresa Dankovich. Each of its pages is made from a thick sheet of paper impregnated with silver and copper nanoparticles, that kill 99.9 percent of microbes in tainted water that’s filtered through it.


A single book is claimed to meet one person’s water filtration needs for four years

Dankovich began work on the technology when she was earning her doctorate at McGill University, continuing it at the University of Virginia’s Center for Global Health. She has now formed a non-profit company, pAge Drinking Paper, to get the book into production and distribution. Read more

Parrot takes to the water with a new hydrofoil drone

Parrot is already known for its drones that fly through the air and roll/jump along the ground, but until now the French company hasn’t had much to do with the water. That’ll change next month, however, when Parrot releases its Minidrone Hydrofoil.

The-Parrot-Minidrone-Hydrofoil-1The new product consists of two components – a main unpowered hydrofoil body, and a Parrot aerial Minidrone that can be attached to its deck via a hinged mount. When the Minidrone is fired up, instead of going straight up into the air as it would ordinarily, it pivots to sit perpendicular to the watercraft, turning it into a miniature fan boat. Read more

Secrets of water-skipping revealed

Skipping stones across water may seem like an innocent children’s pastime, but the science behind it has helped to win more than one war. Now, researchers at Utah State University’s (USU) College of Engineering are uncovering new insights into the physics of these kinds of water impacts that could have wide applications in the fields of naval, maritime, and ocean engineering.

skipping-stones-2It may seem strange, but knowing how to skip things off the water is a very important branch of physics. In the 18th century, Admiral Lord Nelson found that by skipping his cannonballs off the waves he could increase their range and impact. More famously, during the Second World War, Barnes Wallis used the principle to create his Bouncing Bomb, which was the secret weapon to destroy the vital dams in Nazi Germany’s Ruhr Valley during the Dambuster Raid in 1943. Read more