When it comes to developing robots that can move efficiently in the water, scientists often turn to creatures like squid and jellyfish for inspiration, and a team in the UK has just produced one. can swim the best of them. The flexible and flexible robot uses a new propulsion method to move like the most efficient swimmer found in the wild and carries a wide range of attributes that its creators deem well suited to Works near fragile and sensitive underwater environments.
The robot was created by a team of engineers from the University of Southampton and the University of Edinburgh, who have sought inspiration from what is considered the most effective swimmer in nature, Aurelia aurita, or the moon jellyfish. The robot mimics this marine creature’s movement with the help of what engineers call a “push bell”.
It consists of a rubber film covering a set of three flexible, 3D-printed ribs, with a small plunger placed in the robot’s upper body. This plunger punches the push bell causing it to expand and then return to its original shape repeatedly, creating jets of liquid that push the robot through the water.
This simulates the swimming technique used by jellyfish and when the bell is hit at the right frequency, the robot can swim at a rate of one body length per second and equal to the efficiency of the Aurelia aurita. This phenomenon is known as resonance and refers to large vibrations resulting from the effect of a force at the right frequency, like pushing a child on a swing.
According to scientists, this is the first time that resonance has been demonstrated as a kind of propulsion in a submersible, and the technique allows robots to swim 10 to 50 times more efficiently than similar underwater robots. controlled by presser foot.
Co-author Thierry Bujard said: “Previous attempts to push robots underwater with a jet system have all involved pushing water through a hard tube but we wanted to go further so it has provided elasticity and resonance to mimic biology, ”says co-author Thierry Bujard. “I was really surprised by the results, I am confident that the design will work but the efficiency of the robot is much greater than I expected.”
Because the robot has a soft and flexible appearance, scientists believe it may one day prove useful in exploring fragile environments, such as coral reefs or archaeological sites. or areas frequented by people. The team will now focus on equipping the robot with the technology needed for these types of applications.
Dr. Gabriel Weymouth from the University of Southampton said: “There are still a lot of challenges and exciting possibilities to explore with soft underwater robot technologies. feels and navigates its environment. “
The research is published in the journal Robotics, while the video below contains raw footage of the robot in action.
Underwater robot inspired by nature’s strongest swimmer
Source: University of Southampton via EurekAlert