Clams and snails help inspire new gen of robots
Researchers have been able to create robotic devices after observing snails and clams.
Washington: Researchers have been able to create robotic devices after observing snails and clams.
By studying and adapting the biological properties of the snail to robotic devices, team led by Anette Hosoi, professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been able to create a "RoboSnail," which can climb walls and stick to overhead surfaces much like its living counterpart.
Such a device can have potential uses in invasive surgery and oil well drilling, among other applications.
Another organism of interest to Hosoi is the razor clam, which has an amazing ability to dig and wedge itself; it can borrow up to 30 inches in the sand.
Hosoi`s "RoboClam" has been developed with the intention of understanding the organism`s behaviour and mechanics as well as to explore the possibility of automated digging devices that use less energy than current technology and equipment .
The researchers found that while digging, the clam`s up-and-down movement accompanied by opening and closing of its shell turns sand into the consistency of liquid quicksand.
This in turn allows the clam to move quickly through the sand. Similar to the human version, the RoboClam vibrates, changing the solid seabed into fluid, allowing a worm-like foot to push down.
Clam-inspired robotic diggers could find use as automatic tethers and lightweight low-cost anchoring devices for small robotic submarines and even large ships and oil platforms. Devices that burrow into the seabed could also potentially be used as detonators for underwater mines.