The Loh Down On Science

Holy Jumping Robots!

If you think walking on water is a miracle, imagine jumping on it!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with The Loh Down on Science, saying, actually, insects called water striders do it all the time.
 
Inspired, Chinese scientists recently built a six-inch insectoid microrobot.  Not only can it skate atop water like a strider, it can also jump and land on water—without sinking!

Real water striders are teensy and lightweight, whereas the robot is fifteen times bigger and a thousand times heavier. So why doesn't the force needed to jump just push the robot's legs into the water and sink it?

Answer?  Five highly-water-repelling foam feet. They're like having rafts for shoes. They allow the robot to jump nearly fourteen inches across water and land without sinking!

There are many possible uses for such agile watercraft. To begin with, the robot's size makes it ideal for spying.

So, skinny dippers, be careful . . . Some six-inch Chinese insectasoid microrobot could be watching!

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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