For many people, walking on water may bring to mind the story of this long-haired bearded dude strolling across the stormy waters of the Sea of Galilee. Although it's no miracle, another chapter of water-walking has been written.
Scientists at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China have designed a microbot that can walk on water and mimic the aquatic capacities of the insect commonly known as a water strider. Such a robot could be used for military spy missions or monitoring water for pollution.
Water striders, a member of a group of leggy insects called Gerridae, are light enough to capitalize on water tension to navigate the surface without sinking.
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The robotic version does the same. It has an "abdomen" about the size of a quarter and ten water-repellent, wire legs that stay on the surface without breaking the water tension. Two centrally located, coil-shaped motors control oar-like legs that propel the robot forward.
"Walking on the water surface is a great dream of humans from ancient to modern times," the research team notes in their findings, published in the journal, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. "Although this dream is still far beyond reach of humans, walking on the water is exactly the lifestyle for some aquatic insects such as the water strider, mosquito, and water spider, etc."
It may be 390 times heavier than a real water strider, but the scientists say their robot's small size make it ideal for conducting military spy missions and monitoring water pollution.